Another AWW Documentary: “Ai Weiwei, The Fake Case,” Reviewed

Ai Weiwei, The Fake Case
I’m back writing about Ai Weiwei, which isn’t what I particularly want to be doing, but as he seems to be the only Chinese artist known or cared about by a wider (Western) audience, here we are. This continued, and likely mutually beneficial, publicity for AWW has led to yet another documentary focusing on the trials and tribulations -- well, mostly the trials -- of him as he continues to work as an artist and professional dissident.

Ai Weiwei’s Objection To “The Sandstorm” Results In Its Removal From Kickstarter [UPDATE]

The Standstorm pulled from Kickstarter
We publicized a Kickstarter on April 1 of a 10-minute dystopian sci-fi film set in Beijing by TED Talks director Jason Wishnow that was advertised as "starring" Ai Weiwei. It blew past its $33,000 goal in no time, probably thanks to the attention that Ai Weiwei -- China's most visible artist -- garners around the world. But now the Kickstarter has been removed and the preview for the movie, The Sandstorm, is only available on YouTube. What gives?

Hundreds Gather In Brooklyn To Support Ai Weiwei And Freedom Of Expression

Brooklyn free expression - Ai Weiwei
PEN America organized a protest called "Take a Stand for Free Expression in China: An Evening of Literary Protest" last Thursday, April 10, in front of the Brooklyn Public Library in New York. Ai Weiwei was more or less the face of the event, attended by several hundreds of people / bored Brooklynites, which was also had the purpose of raising awareness of persecuted Chinese writers. Art Daily reports that Ai Weiwei appeared via video message to thank his supporters.

Is Art Vandalism Art? A Closer Look At Maximo Caminero And Ai Weiwei

Maximo Caminero breaks Ai Weiwei vase
The definition of irony has always been difficult to pin down, even for the most seasoned of wordsmiths, but here’s an attempt through example: an artist who achieved fame by defacing or destroying other artists’ work sees one of his defaced works defaced by another artist. The famous artist is Ai Weiwei, whose 1995 photographic triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn is undoubtedly one of the pieces that propelled him to international art world fame and fortune.

Saint Ai, The Musician: The Divine Comedy, Reviewed

Ai Weiwei - The Divine Comedy
Ai Weiwei has managed to upset and alienate many groups during his reign as China’s national gadfly, particularly within the past five years, a period in which the 55-year-old's public profile has swelled to supernova proportions. A respondent brought up the "Ai Weiwei Effect" in last month’s roundup of critical reactions to Ai Weiwei and Zuoxiao Zuzhou’s song “Dumbass,” and on the eve of the release of The Divine Comedy -- the six-song album on which Dumbass appears -- it's worth asking again: how do we perform aesthetic analysis of the outspoken artist-cum-activist's work when our perceptions are so colored by sentiment?

How Is Ai Weiwei’s Musicality? We Asked Chinese Music Experts

Ai Weiwei Dumbass
By now, you’re probably familiar with Ai Weiwei’s “Dumbass," the Beijing-born artist-cum-activist’s widely-publicized collaborative heavy metal music video with Zuoxiao Zuzhou that was unveiled last week to promote the pair’s upcoming full-length effort, The Divine Comedy. Directed by well-known Australian cinematographer Christopher Doyle -- you may recognize his work with Zhang Yimou and Wong Kar-Wai -- the highly-polished video offers a surrealistic interpretation of the 81 days that Ai, 55, reportedly spent in detention in mid-2011 for tax evasion

Not Everyone Is Pleased With Ai Weiwei’s New Music Video

Ai Weiwei checking Twitter reactions
You've heard by now, but Ai Weiwei did something yesterday. And while most reactions to Dumbass, his foul-mouthed song about his 81 days in prison, were predictably enthusiastic, there's a segment of commentators who believe Ai Weiwei is overexposed, and have reacted with what amounts to a protracted and very loud sigh.

Here’s Ai Weiwei’s Music Video For “Dumbass,” About His Prison Experience

Ai Weiwei in prison video - Dumbass
Ai Weiwei's 81 days in detention in 2011 is the inspiration for his latest work, "Dumbass," a song he wrote with music by rocker/artist Zuoxiao Zuzhou. The accompanying video was released minutes ago, in which he recreates scenes from his imprisonment. "He also portrays fantasies he imagines flitting through the guards’ minds," reports the NY Times. The cinematography is by Christopher Doyle, who has worked with the likes of Wong Kar-wai.

I Got A Haircut From Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei cutting my hair
On top of everything else, Ai Weiwei is a barber. A good one? Hm. Maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's start here: exactly what kind of haircuts does he give? “The kind that will make you want to cry," he said. “Just don’t make it boring,” I told him. “It won’t be boring.” ~ We were sitting on outdoor benches on Wednesday evening at the restaurant Fodder Factory in Caochangdi, a tiny urban enclave whose intimacy and absence of pretension has attracted some of the city's more self-motivated and independent artists, filmmakers and celebrities, Ai Weiwei included...

Ai Weiwei Is Bored: Here He Is In His Beijing Studio (Pictures By Jamie Hawkesworth)

Ai Weiwei in his studio by Jamie Hawkesworth
The outspoken agitator you know as Ai Weiwei -- who, last we checked, is still not allowed to leave the country -- might be weary and beat down (or just mugging for the camera), judging by these pictures by Jamie Hawkesworth, who recently visited the artist in his Beijing studio, commissioned by the magazine AnOther. As Rob Alderson writes on It's Nice That:

Mo Yan Grants First Interview Since Winning Nobel Prize, Rebukes Ai Weiwei, Makes Very Interesting Cultural Revolution Comparison

Mo Yan Der Spiegel
Since accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature on December 10, the controversial Mo Yan has turned down every formal interview request from every publication in the world. But he finally broke his silence last week, granting a sit-down with Germany’s Der Spiegel, one of Europe’s largest news weeklies. The article was published in this week’s (February 25)... Read more »

To Serve People: Ai Weiwei vs. Global Times Reveals Propaganda Can Be A Fickle Mistress

TAR Ai Weiwei vs GT
On Tuesday night, the Global Times published an article damning Elton John for dedicating his performance to Ai Weiwei and encouraging Chinese people to boo future similar performers off the stage. On the same day, GT published “‘Top thinkers’ list a reflection of US values,” a scathing indictment of Foreign Policy’s list, which features, among others, Ai Weiwei.

Should Bo Xilai Be Time’s Person Of The Year? (More Than 90 Percent So Far Say No)

Bo Xilai as Time's Person of the Year
There’s no question Bo Xilai has had an eventful year, directly responsible for outrage, consternation, confusion, exhilaration, and joy (he was manna from heaven for China’s foreign correspondents). As Time’s Austin Ramzy writes, “Bo was favored to win a seat on China’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee this fall after having boosted his popularity by reviving Mao-era... Read more »

Elton John Dedicated Tonight’s Concert In Beijing To Ai Weiwei

Elton John and AWW
This picture (and the ones after the jump) is via Gonzalo the 3rd (update: originally posted to Ai Weiwei’s Instagram), and appears to have been taken today. Tipster Mark D writes in: Elton John dedicated this evening’s show to Ai Weiwei. Not exactly on the Bjork-Free Tibet scale of scandal, but still interesting nonetheless. The Bjork... Read more »

Associated Press Films A PC Desktop Playing Ai Weiwei’s Gangnam Parody, Washington Post Labels It “Raw Video”

AP's "raw video" of Ai Weiwei's Gangnam parody
We have officially just seen what happens when a 120-year-old man time travels from the 1910s to the 2010s and is told to “put that Ai Weiwei Gangnam video on the Internet.” His head doesn’t explode, but we wish it did. Look at the above. Just look at it as you would a Millie Brown... Read more »

Ai Weiwei’s Gangnam Style Video Is Called “Grass Mud Horse Style,” And It’s Just As Bad As China’s Other Parodies

Grass Mud Horse Style featured image
If there's anyone in China who might understand what it means to parody something -- actually, truly parody, and not just copy or co-opt -- it's Ai Weiwei. He's an artist, you know. Who better than he to skewer China's nouveau riche and be this country's answer to PSY? You think Gangnam, South Korea is a district of gross decadence and put-on fakery?