The journalist and filmmaker Alison Klayman has created a documentary following the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, over a two year period. ‘Never Sorry’ documents the life of China’s best known international contemporary artist.
Filmed over a period beginning in 2008 and finishing in 2010, she captures Mr Ai through pivotal milestones in his work, day to day life, and political struggles. The result is an exploration of art, activism and a deeply moving portrait of the man, himself struggling in a modern China. It highlights China as a country which pretends to be forward think and yet still holds onto the negative ways of the past, by drowning freedom of speech and many of the rights we take for granted in the West. The film puts under the microscope the complex practices of the artist, his social activism, his intimate exchanges with family and his uncompromising disagreements with the Chinese government. Klayman’s film was in post-production when the Chinese authorities arrested Mr Ai holding him for 81 days. His controversial imprisonment made him a household name in both China and in the West.
What emerges in this film is Mr Ai’s ability to communicate. It reveals a serious side, but also uncovers his casual, fun side. The film successfully goes beneath the surface and encourages the audience to engage with the artist, a man who creates often complicated, conceptual based art. The film has been a hit since winning the special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and It has proven a draw in London in its opening week.
Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing, China, where he lives and works. He is one of the most widely known and outspoken Chinese artists working today. Known for his social or performance-based interventions as well as object-based artworks, he employs metaphorical references, humour and political irony in his work. He is best known for his collaboration on the ‘Birds Nest Stadium’ for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He has currently returned to work on the design of the 2012 Serpentine Pavilion with Herzog & de Meuron the original team which produced the ‘Birds Nest’.
Curzon Soho, London, W1D – Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, 10 – 16 August