Considering its population, China has a disproportionately small amount of international art stars (though we likely all have a sense that will change if the cogs of China’s economic engine continues to churn unimpeded). Maybe that’s because though the increasingly wealthy Chinese can pull off oligarchical money grabs and crass materialism just as well as their counterparts in the West, the end-of-history-cynicism that plays so well in London and New York feels foreign to a country that sees itself as (re)nascent.
Ai Weiwei, the star China does have (but would rather not claim), would make an uneasy guest at a party with the likes of Jeff Poons and Damien Hirst. Not that he couldn’t make the guest list. His polymorphic practice (he’s active in architecture, film, video, photography, installation, sculpture) and penchant for staged stunts is appropriate enough to get an invitation to the party that is the contemporary art world. But his earnest political activism makes him stand out like a construction worker at a receiving line.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, a new documentary by first-time director Alison Klayman, takes an inside look at the artist and his unrepentant activism, which while causing him significant trouble with China’s official bouncers has made him both an international art star and one of his country’s leading public figures.
Last week KUER’s Doug Fabrizio sat down with Klayman and art curator Mika Yoshitake to discuss the life and art of Ai Weiwei. Click here to listen.
The film is now playing at Salt Lake’s Broadway Cinema. Click here for showtimes.
UTAH’S ART MAGAZINE SINCE 2001, 15 Bytes is published by Artists of Utah, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.