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Artists as Writers: Ai, WeiWei

Artist Biography

(Self-portrait by Ai Weiwei for Time)

AI, Weiwei (1957 - )

Areas of expertise
Architect, conceptual artist, sculptor, photographer, cultural critic, publisher, installation artist, landscape architect

Biography

Born in 1957, Beijing, Ai Weiwei’s work has been marked by a pursuit of honesty. Though he is famed for his tongue in cheek criticisms, his satires of traditional culture and his unending social responsibility, he began first and foremost as an artist.

Ai Weiwei began his training at Beijing Film Academy and later continued at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. He was instrumental in the founding of the Overseas Chinese Artists Foundation as well as laying the groundwork for experimental artists in the East Village where he published three books about the future generation of artists. His work has been displayed all over the world in Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea and the United States and recently has been commissioned by the Tate Modern.

Later his name would become famous with projects such as the ‘Bird’s Nest,’ the Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, a project he quickly distanced himself from following completion. His role as an activist deepened, with his infamous probe of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake student deaths and the following closing of his blog. Ai continues to reside in China.

Above biography © The Bui Gallery Limited 2008 & Getty ULAN

Gallery representation
Galerie Urs Meile Beijing-Lucerne

Online Resources

Writing by Ai WeiWei

Ai Weiwei: Writing about his own art

Serpentine Gallery Manifesto Marathon: 18-19 October 2008. London: König, 2009.
About the Serpentine Gallery Project. View online interviews related to this project.

Ai Weiwei. London ; New York: Phaidon, 2009.
Includes excerpts from Ai WeiWei's blog & interviews.

Ai Weiwei: Fairytale: A Reader. JRP/Ringier Kunstverlag, 2011.
A critical analysis of the Fairytale project by Ai WeiWei and others.

Ai Weiwei's Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011.
Translations of Ai WeiWei's blogs. Accessible through OCADU.

Ai Weiwei: Writing about art

Books

The Black Cover Book. Eds. Ai Weiwei, Zeng Xiaojun & Xu Bing. Beijing: Red Flag Books, 1994.
This book comprises reproductions of iconic twentieth-century artworks by Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, among others, translations of existing art-historical and critical texts, artists’ submissions, and essays

Ai Weiwei's Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011.
Translations of Ai WeiWei's blogs. Accessible through OCADU.

"The Parrot's Tale: Ai Weiwei Explores MAP Office." The Parrot's Tale. Hong Kong: Map Book Publishers, 2007.

The Richness of Life: The Personal Photographs of Contemporary Chinese Artist Liu Xiaodong: 1984-2006. Hong Kong: Timezone 8, 2007.
This book includes writing by Ai WeiWei.

 

Catalogue Essays and Articles

"The Multiple Predicaments and Upturns of Chinese Contemporary Art." Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz ; New York: Art Publishers [distributor], 2005.

"The Joy of Running Away And All That Catches The Eye." Show Me... Catch Me... Sight Unseen: Xie Nanxing and Wang Xingwei. Beijing: China Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, 2005. pp. 7-9.

"Dancing With Hyenas: Concerning Foreign Architects Practicing in China." Michael Maltzan: Alternate Ground. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Heinz Architectural Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, 2005.

"Do As You Wish."  Rent - Rent Collection Yard. Beijing: Galerie Urs Meile, 2008, pp. 11.
A catalogue essay by Ai for an exhibit by Li Zhanyang

"Why Do We Need Another Exhibition?" The State of Things. Eds. Luc Tuymans, Ai Weiwei, Fan Di'an. Brussels ; Beijing: BOZAR Center for Fine Arts ; Tielt: Lanoo Books, 2009.

"The Wings of Live Art: He Yunchang." Beijing ; Lucerne: Galerie Urs Meile, 2009.
Ai provided texts for this catalogue.

"Shan is not Shan, Shui is not Shui." Shanshui: Poetry Without Sound? Ostfilder : Hatje Cantz Verlag ; Luzern: Kunstmuseum Luzern, 2011.
A catalogue essay by Ai, who was also co-curator of this exhibition

Ai Weiwei: 'China's art world does not exist'. The Guardian (London UK) 10 Sep 2012: online. View article online.

Ai Weiwei: Writing and Interviews About Politics

Writing about politics: Books

The White Cover Book. Eds. Ai Weiwei & Zeng Xiaojun. Beijing: Red Flag Books,1995.
Politically-oriented content, including works by contemporary Chinese artists and interviews with Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer

The Grey Cover Book. Eds. Ai Weiwei & Zeng Xiaojun. Beijing: Red Flag Books, 1997
Politically-oriented content, including works by contemporary Chinese artists and interviews with Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer

Ai Weiwei's Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011.
Translations of Ai WeiWei's blogs. Accessible through OCADU.

 

Writing about politics: Articles

"Why I'll stay away from the opening ceremony of the Olympics." The Guardian (London UK) 7 Aug 2008: online. View article online.

"Happiness can't be faked: China has tried to create a fantasy image. But the false Olympics smiles aren't fooling anyone." The Guardian (London UK) 18 Aug 2008: 27. View article online.

"Gold is not the real measure of a nation." The Guardian (London UK) 25 Aug 2008: online. View article online.

"The China Paradox." Time International, suppl. SPECIAL REPORT: Heroes of the Environment 174.13 Oct 5, 2009.

"Conspiracy of Silence." Index on Censorship 38.4 (Dec 2009): 70-3.

"Our Duty is the Remember Sichuan." The Guardian (London UK) China at Crossroads series. 25 May 2009.  View article online.

"Built on False Foundations: China's Investigation into the Sichuan Earthquake has Exposed the Lies Underpinning the State." The Guardian (London UK) 26 May 2009: 31.

"Censors Can't Keep Up With the Web." Art AsiaPacific 64 (July/Aug 2009): 41. Available at OCADU.

"Google Gives Us Hope." Wall Street Journal Europe [Brussels] 10 Feb 2010: 14.

"Comment: David Cameron, as you visit China please listen to us." The Guardian (London UK) 08 Nov 2010: 31. View article online.

"The City: Beijing: Ai Weiwei Finds China's Capital is a Prison Where People Go Mad." Newsweek 158.10. Sep 5, 2011.

"Battle for the internet: China's censorship can never defeat the Internet." The Guardian (London UK) 16 Apr 2012: 26. View article online.

"To Live Your Life in Fear is Worse than Losing Your Freedom." The Guardian (London UK) 22 June 2012: 34. View article online.

"Microblogging In China." Art Asiapacific 78 (May/June 2012): 63. View article online.

"Ai Weiwei: 'Every day in China, we put the state on trial'" The Guardian (London UK) 15 Apr 2013. View article online.

"NSA surveillance: the US is behaving like China." The Guardian (London UK) 11 Jun 2013. View article online.

 

Interviews about politics

"Truth to Power." Index on Censorship 37.2 (May 2008): 20-34. Interview by Simon Kirby. View article online.

Art and Cultural Policy in China: A Conversation with Ai Weiwei, Uli Sigg and Yung Ho Chang. Wien ; New York: Springer, 2009.

"Ai Weiwei and Vito Acconci: On LIfe, Culture, and other Matters." Artpulse Magazine 12 April 2010. Interview by Alvaro Rodríguez Fominaya. View article online.

Ai Weiwei: Interviews as Interviewer

Ai interviews other artists

Chinese Artists, Texts and Interviews: Chinese Contemporary Art Awards (CCAA) 1998-2002. Ed. Ai Weiwei. Hong Kong: Timezone 8, 2002.

"A Talk Between Xie Nanxing and Ai Weiwei." Xie Nanxing Paintings: 1992-2004. Beijing: Galerie Urs Meile, 2004, pp. 11-63.

"Ai Weiwei Interviews Li Zhanyang." Rent - Rent Collection Yard. Beijing: Galerie Urs Meile, 2008, pp. 133-149.

Chi Peng: Me, Myself, and I. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2011.
Includes interview of Chi Peng by Ai WeiWei.

Ai Weiwei: Interviews as Interviewee

Ai WeiWei is interviewed by others

(These are transcribed texts of interviews, with no written contribution by Ai himself)

"Interview with Ai Weiwei on CCAA, Identity and His Recent Conceptual Work." by Robert Bernell. Chinese Type Contemporary Art Online Magazine 1.6 (Jan 1999): 7-8.[online texts related to this interview]

"Changing Perspective: Ai Weiwei with Charles Merewether." Ai Weiwei: Works, Beijing 1993-2003. Ed. Charles Merewether. [Hong Kong]: Timezone 8, 2003. Interview by Charles Merewether

"An Interview with Ai Weiwei, One of the Architects of Jinhua Architecture Park, Zhejiang." Time + Architecture 1 (2006): 46-65.

"Interview: Jinhua Architectural Park." A + U-Architecture and Urbanism 435 (Dec 2006): 88-9.
An interview with Ai about his opinions and views about his organizational and design work on the Jinhua Architectural Park

"Dessert: A Last Minute Talk with Ai Weiwei." a chapter in MAD Dinner. Barcelona ; New York: Actar, 2007.

“An Interview with Ai Weiwei.” Artzine: A Chinese Contemporary Art Portal August 10, 2007. View article online.
interview with Nataline Colonnello about his Fairytale project

"Concept and Fake." Parkett 81 (2007): 122-45.
transcript of interview of Ai Weiwei and Jacques Herzog.

"Where Architects Fear to Tread." Art India 12.4 (Dec 2007): 57-9. Interview by Karen Smith

"The Way We Were, The Way We Are (Interview with Ai Weiwei)." Art in America 96.6 (June-July 2008): 99-101.
Interview by Richard Vine

“A Conversation with Ai Weiwei.”  Yishu 7.4 (July 2008): 10-19. Interview by Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker

“Making Everything: A Conservation With Ai Weiwei.” Sculpture 27.10 (Dec 2008): 24-29.

Ai Weiwei: So Sorry. Munich: Prestel, 2009.
Includes interview between Ai and Carolee Thea

Ai Weiwei. London ; New York: Phaidon, 2009.
Includes excerpts from Ai's blog and interviews.

China Talks: Interviews with 32 Contemporary Artists by Jérôme Sans. Hong Kong: Timezone 8, 2009.

"Ai Weiwei: FAKE Design, China." Harvard Design Magazine 32 (2010): 104-105.

Hans Ulrich Obrist: A Post-Olympic Beijing Mini-Marathon. Zurich: JRP Ringier ; New York: D.A.P., 2010.
This text includes an interview with Ai WeiWei.

Ai Weiwei Speaks. with Hans Ulrich Obrist. London: Penguin, 2011.
A book of interviews that discuss the many dimensions of Ai WeiWei's artistic life, ranging over subjects including ceramics, blogging, nature, and philosophy

"At Home with Ai Weiwei." transcript of interview between Ai and J. J. Camille. Art in America 100.1 (Jan 2012): 66-9. View article online.

Art and Cultural Policy in China: A Conversation with Ai Weiwei, Uli Sigg and Yung Ho Chang. Wien ; New York: Springer, 2009.

"Interview Luc Tuymans and Ai Weiwei." The State of Things. Eds. Luc Tuymans, Ai Weiwei, Fan Di'an. Brussels ; Beijing: BOZAR Center for Fine Arts ; Tielt: Lanoo Books, 2009.
An interview by Frank Uytterhaegen of Ai is published in this exhibition catalogue