Friday, October 4, 2013

Ai Weiwei, artist and hero

Those who follow this blog are used to me exhorting you to see or do something. Well - if you live in or near Toronto, PLEASE DO NOT MISS THE AI WEIWEI EXHIBITION AT THE AGO, which ends Oct. 27. Friend Ken, who's a member, took Anna and me as his guests yesterday, and as we left, I resolved to go back. It's impossible to show in photos the impact of his work. (I asked AGO staff if we could take pictures. "Oh yes," she replied. "He wants you to.")

Weiwei is a brilliant artist, making fascinating and beautiful objects and installations, but he's also profoundly compassionate and connected to the world, and his art is social commentary, which has required enormous courage to produce in a totalitarian country. We don't see that often enough, art that is both beautiful and socially engaged. A deeply moving and inspiring exhibition.

We went from there to the exhaustive David Bowie exhibit, which suffers in comparison. There's no doubt that the feline, bisexual Bowie with his endless array of costumes and personae has made the world a more interesting place. But Weiwei has made the world a better place.

 Old stools, transformed.
 Historic ancient pots, transformed.
 One of my favourites - a sculptural circle of Chinese-made Forever bicycles.
My daughter took one look and burst into tears. Weiwei and his team documented the more than 5000 children killed in an earthquake due to the shoddy construction of their schools. The government refused to comment on the deaths, so Wei Wei tracked down every name and birthdate. It's like the Vietnam war memorial in Washington - overwhelming in its relentless bureaucratic simplicity. 


  1. Trying to test your comment box.

  2. Hi whoever you are - it worked!

  3. I love being able to comment! Just looking at the photo of Weiwei's list of > 5000 children killed in an earthquake due to the shoddy construction of their schools made me burst into tears. It is a wonderful way to memorialize them.

  4. Great to hear from you, Deborah. Yes, though the government attempted to push it all under the carpet, Weiwei made sure the chidren were not forgotten.