The Newsletter 72 Autumn 2015

Ai Weiwei

Adrian LockeJanet Baker

Ai Weiwei is no ordinary artist. Over recent years he has become a household name. His activities are widely reported, as witnessed by the recent coverage when his passport was returned to him by the Chinese authorities. Ai’s international profile emerged following the Szechuan earthquake in May 2008, when he started openly questioning the building standards of the local schools which collapsed, killing thousands of children. As part of a Citizens Investigation Ai collated the names of those children and recorded the impact their loss had on their families. These moving works include ‘Straight’ a monumental memorial constructed of rebar (steel bars used in the construction of reinforced concrete buildings) that he reclaimed from the destroyed buildings. The whole work weighs 150 tonnes and stands in silent testament to the victims of the disaster, and serves as a very visceral reminder of the fabric of those buildings within which they lost their lives.