Posts Tagged ‘Ai WeiWei’

My favourite piece this week was by Salman Rushdie who used his great skills as a writer  to eloquently comment on the arrest of  Chinese artist Ai Weiwei:

“The lives of artists are more fragile than their creations. The poet Ovid was exiled by Augustus to a little hell-hole on the Black Sea called Tomis, but his poetry has outlasted the Roman Empire. Osip Mandelstam died in a Stalinist work camp, but his poetry has outlived the Soviet Union. Federico García Lorca was killed by the thugs of Spain’s Generalissimo Francisco Franco, but his poetry has survived that tyrannical regime.

We can perhaps bet on art to win over tyrants. It is the world’s artists, particularly those courageous enough to stand up against authoritarianism, for whom we need to be concerned, and for whose safety we must fight” (New York Times)

– although I will have to reconcile myself to the sad,beautiful fact that I’ll never get to read everything I want (NPR) ;

yesterday was Judgement Day as prophesied in the Terminator series when the machines would rise up and bring about the end of human society as we know it (BBC)

– Europeans are happier when they have a day off while Americans would rather be working those extra hours, according to a new study (3quarksdaily)

– maybe Americans should listen to Umair Haque:

if it’s the city at the other end of the economic world we wish to reach — the shining city on a hill we once called prosperity, a conception of richness that, resonantly American, was never merely about hands grabbing at wealth, but about imagining, building, and creating lives that were authentically richer — then we might just have to get serious not merely about what it is we don’t do, but what we will do differently tomorrow than we have done for the last several decades (Harvard Business Review)

– and also to Brad Feld, a venture capitalist who gave some pertinent  advice to a group of MBA students:

Don’t worry about money right now. You can always get a job that pays you plenty of money. Don’t worry about your resume. Don’t worry about “am I positioning myself the right way for something five years from now.” I know way too many 45 year olds who have plenty of money, have done all the right career things, yet are unhappy with where they are in life, where they live, and what they do. Don’t be that guy or gal (FeldThoughts)

Despite living in the US for five years, I am very jealous of my London colleagues who get both Easter Monday and the day of the royal wedding off, so my European roots are still showing.

Happy Easter.

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“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley in A Defense of Poetry in 1821. A radical, Romantic humanist, Shelley passionately believed that artists of all stripes could inspire the masses to rise up against oppression. When the Chinese government seized artist Ai WeiWei, they acknowledged the power of Ai’s art to “legislate” in a way they seemingly no longer could in the face of the oncoming Jasmine Revolution. The fate of Ai, and that of the Chinese people, now hangs in the balance.” (The Big Think)

– photo of Tate Modern’s fab “Release Ai Weiwei” message (by @robbiesharp) ;

– most of what we do and think and feel is not under our conscious control according to neuroscientists (The Telegraph) ;

– but this picture provides a clue on how to be happy (The Big Picture) ;

– for this six-year old it was becoming Director of Fun at a railway museum (Letter of Note) ;

– for the rest of us it is friends and exercise :

All three researchers concluded that one of the biggest factors in both a happy life and a long life was having strong and healthy social connections. (The Atlantic)

So work out this weekend and then catch up with your friends.

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The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds 2010 at Tate Modern

I recently caught Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern in London:

Each seed has been individually sculpted and painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. Far from being industrially produced, they are the effort of hundreds of skilled hands. Poured into the interior of the Turbine Hall’s vast industrial space, the 100 million seeds form a seemingly infinite landscape.

Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make this work, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China’s most prized exports. Sunflower Seeds invites us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today.

So it is heartbreaking to learn that Shanghai authorities have demolished his studio which he had the strength to describe as an ultimate work of art.

British journalist Jon Snow met Ai last October and the artist handed him some  sunflower seeds from the exhibition. Snow has kept them in his jacket pocket ever since.

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