Ai Weiwei Opens a Series of “Conversations” with a Discussion About His Art, Activism, and Twittering
Art Observed reports on Ai Weiwei’s interview with Philip Tinari at Art Basel Miami Beach:
Weiwei’s blog on the Chinese website Sina.com, on which he published the names of the children killed in Sichuan, was shut down by the Chinese government in May 2008 and so his online communication with the outside world have become limited to twitter on which he claims to spend anything from 6 -16 hours per day – that morning he had woken-up at 4am to begin ‘twittering.’ This year he famously posted self-portraits of himself while in hospital in Munich, he noted during his Conversation that he twitters absolutely everything – so much so that he jokingly suggested people ought to stop considering him as an artist because, “really I’m just twittering.” On a more serious note, when discussing the political nature of his work, Weiwei insisted that in order to describe your view entirely to the world art is not sufficient and that writing and blogging play an integral part of delivering a clear message to the world.
After much discussion of his activism and twittering, Ai Weiwei fired a question back to Tinari – “Can we talk about the art?” However, despite being steered by Tinari in the direction of his shows such as “So Sorry” at Haus der Kunst in Munich and other upcoming projects, what became clear is that, despite his claims that he does not make ‘political art’, Weiwei’s activism is so intrinsically entwined with his art that even he has trouble distinguishing the two.
While his ability to talk about his own art was perhaps stunted by Ai Weiwei’s coy and deviating answers, the multi-faceted artist took time to consider the works on show at the main event of the week – Art Basel Miami Beach. Weiwei recognized that what is on show at the convention center is not Contemporary art but only the product of Contemporary – “They are collectibles.”
See also the past CDT post, “To Use Art is Not Enough.”