Wednesday, June 13, 2012
UPDATED, July 17: "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" is screening Friday, July 20 at 6:30 pm at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla. Please disregard the previous date information listed below.
A new documentary on internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei can soon be seen on local theater screens. "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," which received the Special Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, provides an insider's portrait of China's most famous contemporary artist and the country's most outspoken domestic critic.
Ai Weiwei is known for his confrontational, unabashed artworks that usually are very critical of his country. Chinese authorities have responded by censoring him (via shutting down his blog), beating him up, tearing down his studio and detaining him in undisclosed locations.
In April 2011, Ai Weiwei was detained at the Beijing airport as he attempted to board a flight to Hong Kong, which sparked a protest movement among the international art community who demanded his release.
Locally, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego staged a 24-hour silent protest last May to show its support of the artist and voice disapproval with the Chinese government's actions. Artists, community members and museum staff were invited to sit in silence for one hour in the artist's "Marble Chair," a series of sculptural works (two of the chairs were later purchased by MCASD and are now part of its collection).
You can see Ai Weiwei's work, "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold" (2010) on view now (and for the first time in the U.S.) at MCASD Downtown through July 29.
In conjunction with the film's release, Sundance Selects (the film's distributor) is launching a social media campaign in the artist's honor. Drawing inspiration from Ai Weiwei's famous photographs (from his exhibition "F--- Off") giving the middle finger to symbols of injustice in his homeland (Tiananmen Square, the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium), participants are being asked to "#RaiseYourFinger" and share in digital protest via photos of themselves flipping the bird to various societal injustices. The submitted photos will be featured in a larger photo mosaic, which will be presented to Ai Weiwei via social media, as a tribute upon his upcoming June 22 release from limited house arrest.
You can submit your photos by uploading to the official "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" Facebook page or by tweeting and tagging "@AWWNeverSorry #RaiseYourFinger."
The film will open in San Diego theaters on August 3. In the meantime, check out the trailer below.