In a direct reference to Chairman Mao’s ‘Little Red Book’, Ai Weiwei’s “little black book” demonstrates the concise wisdom of this innovative artist’s thoughts on the great issues of our time – art, politics, and life in contemporary China. A master at communicating powerful ideas in astonishingly few words, Ai Weiwei is known for his innovative use of social media to disseminate his views. The short quotations presented in WEIWEI-ISMS have been carefully selected from articles, tweets, and interviews given by thisacclaimed Chinese artist and activist. The book is organized into six categories: freedom of expression; art and activism; government, power, andmoral choices; the digital world; history, the historical moment, and the future; and personal reflections.
Together, these quotes span some of the most revealing moments of Ai Weiwei’s eventful career–from his risky investigation into student deaths in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake to his arbitrary arrest in 2011–providing a window into the mind of one of the world’s most electrifying and courageous contemporary artists.
“Ai Weiwei is unquestionably one of the most important artists of our time. His practice encompasses the production of objects, the circulation of information, and politics in a manner that is absolutely unique. This worthy compilation of short quotations will introduce a broad audience to his thought and activism, and makes clear the scope and span of this truly global artist.”–David Joselit, author of After Art
“First, there was Confucius. Then, the sayings of Chairman Mao. And now the pithy, ironic, and humorous insights of Ai Weiwei. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection, which reflects a well-developed philosophy as well as a keen understanding of the Chinese Communist system. This is China made easy and interesting.”–Jerome A. Cohen, New York University
Editor Larry Warsh has been active in the art world for more than thirty years. He has collaborated with Ai Weiwei on numerous projects, including the public art installation Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads (2010). Warsh is a former member of the Contemporary Arts Council of the Asia Society and the Contemporary Arts Committee of the China Institute. He has also served on the boards of the Museum of Contemporary Art, China; the Alliance for the Arts; and the Getty Museum Photographs Council. He is currently on the board of Muse Film and Television and is a member of the Basquiat Authentication Committee.
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’.