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Ai Weiwei: Artist and activist

Ai Weiwei is one of the most famous artists from his generation. He was born in Beijing in 1957 and currently lives in Berlin. Throughout his life, Weiwei has created strong statements about geopolitical and humanitarian causes. Consequently, in 2015, Amnesty International rewarded Ai as Ambassador of Conscience for dedicating his life and work to human rights.

He primarily works with photography, film, architecture and installations. Being an artist of all mediums, Wei Wei’s work has been seen by a worldwide audience. “Becoming Series” represents four of the artworks selected for a special collaboration event between Blond Contemporary and Singulart, taking place from the 10th December to the 20th December 2020.

From China to the World

Politics and Art were both present in Weiwei’s life from a very young age. His father was a renowned poet from China, accused by the government for being rightist. Therefore, as a kid, his family was exiled in isolated locations. After the Cultural Revolution in China, Wei Wei was allowed to go back to Beijing, where he developed his interest in arts.

Firstly, he joined the Beijing Film Academy but, eager to leave China’s restrictions behind, Ai then headed to the United States in 1981. During this period, he attended Parsons School of Design and became a part of the New York art scene. Once his father became ill, he returned to China, where he was again confronted by an authoritarian regime.

“When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill”

Ai Weiwei
Artist AiWeiWei
“Sunflower Seeds” by Ai Wei Wei. Installation composed by one thousand million porcelain seeds handpainted by 1.600 Chinese artisans.

His art intrinsically relates with his critique towards the Chinese government. Hence, among his most emblematic works are the Han Dynasty Urn with Coca Cola logo paint and the art installation “Sunflower Seeds” inaugurated at Tate Modern in 2011.

Becoming Series: A group of four

Each piece of the Becoming series belongs to an edition of 45 offset printed facsimile photographs by Ai Weiwei, from 2009. This group of four correspond to the #106, #107, #109 and #110 photographs from the 147 different pictures that compose the full series.

Artist AiWeiWei
Becoming Series ( #106, #107, #109, #110 ) by Ai Weiwei (2009).

The Becoming series takes part in a period where Weiwei was highly focused on portraying modern China. He was often showing massive developments undertaken by the government. Following this theme, the four photographs depict the process of construction of the new Beijing airport terminal, which is also the world’s biggest.

Throughout the series, Weiwei captures highly complex scenarios of the same environment. Strongly shaped lines in contrast to a red background drive the viewers to a strict surrounding and a sense of danger. Moreover, one can explore many metaphors throughout the series’s evolution in parallel to the build-up of an immense infrastructure.

Overall, Ai Weiwei inspires himself on current struggles to create an impactful message. Thus, making him one of the most active voices of the present times.