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.
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.