“Ai Weiwei, the New Model for Intellectuals”

The magazine Nanfeng Chuang recently ran a short piece about Ai Weiwei‘s busy 2009. It’s a good summary for those who haven’t been following the exploits of the famed artist/activist, and if you have, it’s interesting to see this kind of stuff written about Ai Weiwei in a real magazine rather than on some dissident’s blog.

Translation

In 2009, Ai Weiwei was the most active intellectual in the public sphere.

After the Wenchuan earthquake, he rounded up volunteers and continually developed his Earthquake Student Names Citizen’s Investigation, and posted his results on the first anniversary of the earthquake, leading to widespread public discussion on the ethics of death and human dignity in the wake of a major disaster. In Ai Weiwei’s opinion, aside from earthquakes, everyday tragedies are more common [than major disasters], and what’s worse is that as soon as the sun comes up [on another day] there is nothing [no evidence/memorial], but life has value, and each life must be treasured even if the person has already died. Not identifying the dead is actually disrespecting life itself, and is in opposition to our social values.

Because of that idea and because of their constant efforts on the behalf of those who lost their lives, Ai Weiwei and his volunteers have won the public’s universal praise and affirmation. Before 2009, Ai Weiwei was best known as China’s most influential artist, but in 2009 he was increasingly considered an active participant in public service and an intellectual activist, even a protector of rights. When being interviewed by us, Ai Weiwei once said, “Today, the government is a part of us, and we are a part of the government; society is a part of us, and we are a part of society. Everyone must assume [this responsibility], whether it’s in their consciousness, part of their mentality, or it’s something they do; everyone is expressing how they want society to be.

It’s as painter Chen Danqing said: “That today our society can have Weiwei is a step forward.” In 2009, Ai Weiwei embodied the courage, reason, responsibility, and activity that all Chinese people should possess, as [these qualities] are the source of our society’s continued improvement.

For more information on our translations, click here.

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0 thoughts on ““Ai Weiwei, the New Model for Intellectuals””

  1. Ha, Ha, Ha,

    Custer,

    You must know NanFangZhouMou, the only media that interviewed Obama in China.

    Did you notice both having a prefix “Nan” ?

    Most magazine and newspapers with “Nan” are pro-democracy, no, pro-Western democracy.

    One of the most famous (or notorious) quotes by one journalist is “My soul finds peace in the Island of England”.

    I guess I should not say anything about Ai Weiwei anymore, otherwise you will kill me.

    Like

  2. “Before 2009, Ai Weiwei was best known as China’s most influential artist, but in 2009 he was increasingly considered an active participant in public service and an intellectual activist, even a protector of rights.”

    Though I like the guy, I doubt Ai Weiei’s that influential outside a small circle of liberals. Most Chinese people probably don’t know who he is, and most of those who do know him probably think he’s too outlandish. In my opinion, the most influential Chinese artist is Zhang Yimou. His movies in the 1990s were about challenging authority and tradition, but nowadays his work is more about nationalism and patriotism, a message that the government happens to be eager to promote, as well.

    Like

  3. What?

    _____________________

    Custer,

    Nothing.

    Honest, deep in your mind, do you think he is an intelligent person ? I m not talking about art.

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  4. @ Wahaha: He’s certainly said and done plenty of things I consider intelligent. Whether he’s genuinely an intelligent person is something I don’t feel particularly qualified to judge, though, given that I’ve never met or spoken with the man personally. What does that have to do with anything, though?

    Like

  5. 有个文人喜欢自由,不想任何约束,包括放屁。可是在他工作的大楼里,明文规定只许在厕所里放屁,这使他很不爽。

    为了争取在大楼里放屁的自由,他找了一个有病的人,这人因为肠胃不好,经常放屁,大楼的规定给了他很多麻烦。

    有了这个病人,这个文人开始理直气壮的为这病人争取放屁的权利,指摘大楼管理人员不仁道,…

    _________________________________________________________

    A person loves freedom, including farting, but the building he works in forbids people farting except in bathroom.

    To get the right of farting anywhere in the building, the person found a person who couldnt control his farting cuz of his illness.

    So now the person starts fighting for the right of farting in the building for the sick person ….
    _______________________________________________

    What a great cause he is fighting for !! so many people are moved by his kindness…

    Like

  6. Still not quite sure how that relates to Ai Weiwei. His Fuck your Motherland thing may have been a bit off the wall, but the things he “fights” for (if blogging and recording names is fighting) are things like memorializing students and a reduction of “gangsters in the government,” not promoting inappropriateness. Or is this farting meant in the Chinese slang sense of being a dumbass with moronic ideas?

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  7. Josh,

    1) should the building’s managers be more considerate when they made the rules ?

    sure they should.

    2) Was the person on morally high ground ?

    Yes, he was.

    3) (key question) Who was he fighting for, the sick person or himself ?

    You tell me.

    4) What would this person do if building allows people farting at will in the building ?

    I dont know, but elevator maybe not the best way going upstair.

    Like

  8. Ok… What exactly makes you think Ai is fighting for himself? If you say it’s “to make a name for himself,” that seems pretty weak.

    Like

  9. Though I like the guy, I doubt Ai Weiei’s that influential outside a small circle of liberals. Most Chinese people probably don’t know who he is, and most of those who do know him probably think he’s too outlandish. In my opinion, the most influential Chinese artist is Zhang Yimou. His movies in the 1990s were about challenging authority and tradition, but nowadays his work is more about nationalism and patriotism, a message that the government happens to be eager to promote, as well.

    =========================

    I agree with what you said about Ai. He is well-known in the wenyijie, but within the wenyijie, he belongs to the contemporary art community about which the general public has basically no idea.

    Zhang Yimou’s recent movies occasionally patriotism, but seldom nationalism. Even for patriotism there’s only “Hero” that fits the description. You can’t see any traces of either patriotism or nationalism in films after 2000 – 黄金甲, 三枪, 千里走单骑 and 十面埋伏. Outside his movies he does collaborates with the government with a lot of national projects.

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  10. Hello, I am spamming this comment all over China blogs! Unfortunately, what I wrote has nothing whatsoever to do with this post, so it got deleted! WOOOO!

    Sincerely,
    -ed.

    Like

  11. Josh,

    This is not science, I read his blog, saw what he did during Olympic, I dont believe a person would care for people if he didnt care the works by million of people for several years.

    Here is link about how a chinese thought of him after reading his blog :

    http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4a07296f0100faey.html

    you can find an oversea chinese translating that for you, exactly as I belieive, an idiot. No offense, but what do westerners know about him besides some typical kind words from their media on pro-west activitists?

    Like

  12. @ Wahaha: Why do you assume Westerners only know about him from Western media? On this blog we publish mostly translations from his blog directly, and this (the first news story we’ve run about Ai Weiwei from a major media source) is from the Chinese media.

    The Western media has some nice things to say about Ai Weiwei, but assuming that that’s all foreigners read is pretty ignorant of you, especially since you’re saying that on a blog that frequently translates Ai in his own words.

    While I feel that foreigners condemning the Olympics for political reasons is pointless and does hurt the feelings of Chinese people; Ai Weiwei condemning them sends a different message since he himself is Chinese and he also helped design the Bird’s Nest. To my mind, he was reminding people that there are things more important than the Olympics, not showing that he doesn’t care about “the work of millions of people for several years.” If he didn’t care about that work, why would he have helped design the Bird’s Nest in the first place?

    Like

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