Ai Weiwei: I'm Not an Activist
Artist Ai Weiwei sees his ongoing battles with the Chinese government as a matter of personal responsibility to "look your enemy in the face and tell them what you're fighting for."
Ai Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist, active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticism. Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government's stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called "tofu-skin schools" in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing airport on 3 April, he was held for over two months without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of "economic crimes" (tax evasion). In October 2011 ArtReview magazine named Ai number one in their annual Power 100 list.
Editors' Note: On New Year's Day, 2013, protests erupted in China's Guangdong province over government censorship of a newspaper, Southern Weekly. In highly unusual show of resistance, the paper's reporters demonstrated in the streets, protesting the rewriting of a New Year's editorial by the province's propaganda minister.
Artist Ai Weiwei, who has been fighting for freedom of expression and human rights in China through his art, social media, and assiduous legal battles with the Chinese government in a court system they control, argues that what some have called his "activism" is simply the very personal struggle of a man responding to everyday injustice. He sees his ongoing fight as a matter of personal responsibility to "look your enemy in the face and tell them what you're fighting for."
VIDEO: Ai Weiwei on why he does battle within a legal system that's rigged against him.
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