This collection of quotes demonstrates the elegant simplicity of Ai Weiwei's thoughts on key aspects of his art, politics, and life. 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 here have been carefully selected from articles, tweets, and interviews given by this acclaimed Chinese artist and activist. The book is organized into six categories: freedom of expression; art and activism; government, power, and moral 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.
Select Quotes from the Book:
On Freedom of Expression
- "Say what you need to say plainly, and then take responsibility for it."
- "A small act is worth a million thoughts."
- "Liberty is about our rights to question everything."
On Art and Activism
- "Everything is art. Everything is politics."
- "The art always wins. Anything can happen to me, but the art will stay."
- "Life is art. Art is life. I never separate it. I don't feel that much anger. I equally have a lot of joy."
On Government, Power, and Making Moral Choices
- "Once you've tasted freedom, it stays in your heart and no one can take it. Then, you can be more powerful than a whole country."
- "I feel powerless all the time, but I regain my energy by making a very small difference that won't cost me much."
- "Tips on surviving the regime: Respect yourself and speak for others. Do one small thing every day to prove the existence of justice."
On the Digital World
- "Only with the Internet can a peasant I have never met hear my voice and I can learn what's on his mind. A fairy tale has come true."
- "The Internet is uncontrollable. And if the Internet is uncontrollable, freedom will win. It's as simple as that."
- "The Internet is the best thing that could have happened to China."
On History, the Historical Moment, and the Future
- "If a nation cannot face its past, it has no future."
- "We need to get out of the old language."
- "The world is a sphere, there is no East or West."
- "I've never planned any part of my career-- except being an artist. And I was pushed into that corner because I thought being an artist was the only way to have a little freedom."
- "Anyone fighting for freedom does not want to totally lose their freedom."
- "Expressing oneself is like a drug. I'm so addicted to it."
Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most influential and inspiring figures. Artist, architect, curator, and activist, he has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government’s stance on human rights and democracy. His work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, the Guangzhou Triennial, Tate Modern, the Smithsonian, and other venues throughout the world. Larry Warsh has been active in the art world for more than thirty years. He has collaborated with Ai Weiwei on several 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.
"Warsh has collected statements from Weiwei on topics ranging from technology to Twitter, freedom of speech to the power of action, and creativity to morality. Although loosely divided into chapters, the book and its brief but powerful quotations all reference back to humanity and the rights of all its members. Unfailingly pithy and refreshingly modest, the book reads quickly and conversationally. Inspirational through its simplicity and generating feelings of complicity, Weiwei succeeds in creating obsessed readers and his desire for obsessed citizens, in China and the world at large, cannot be far behind."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[H]ere is a man who understands how to get messages to people. His expertise in artful dissemination is the 21st-century equivalent of Andy Warhol's brilliant populism. . . . [E]pigrammatic, pungent, uncompromising."--Peter Aspden, Financial Times
"Physically Weiwei-isms is a black, small hardbound book, fitting nicely into a jacket pocket and meant to be carried around, perused at chance moments and ruminated on. It knowingly bears a resemblance to the little red books that were given out by Chairman Mao in order to popularize his philosophies to his subjects. Yet, brainwashing is not the dastardly attempt of the author this time; it is more akin to brain-widening. Take a look for yourself. I feel safe in saying that some statement, one of his turns of phrase, will hit you like a punch in the gut, likely leaving an emotional bruise that will take great time and thought to recover from."--Luke Goldstein, Blogcritics
"If it's even possible to put a whole person into your pocket, Weiwei-isms comes close. . . . Unlike The Little Red Book, carrying Weiwei-isms isn't compulsory, but you'll find yourself compelled to read it again and again and fit it into your head and heart, if not your pocket."--Bob Duggan, Big Think
Table of Contents:
On Freedom of Expression 1
On Art and Activism 23
On Government, Power, and Making Moral Choices 39
On the Digital World 69
On History, the Historical Moment,and the Future 77
Personal Reflections 91