LinkedIn is a startling creature, one that I have been politely nudged into taming. Essentially, one translates one’s resume into digestible pieces and then looks hopefully to more successful people for connection. Or so I feel after five episodes of Mr. Robot have turned me cynical and happy to be so. To psych myself up for updating my LinkedIn I decided to first update all my hovering social media presences. What I found in doing so was one simple thing: Ai Wei Wei makes me happy.
Ai Wei Wei is also cynical, and while my cynicism has currently only fueled me to create a better Tumblr (largely featuring his past and present work) his has fueled the lift of a triumphant middle finger to the things he finds unacceptable. So it is in the spirit of Ai Wei Wei that I start writing this blog again. I don’t want to lift a middle finger to you, dear reader, although I will happily share his.
Now if that doesn’t make you feel something again after the slog of this election (so close and yet so very far), I don’t know what will. I discovered him wandering around the Princeton grounds, where his zodiac series was resting for a while, but it wasn’t until I rediscovered them by chance just a few minutes from my office that I gave in fully. If I could have a chance encounter with such an arresting artist on a frozen November Wednesday in a place I never had any expectation of finding myself, then run into the same exact work again five minutes from where I spend every day of my workweek… you get the point.
And then, there were the bicycles. The Third Policeman introduced me to the wonder and menace of the bicycle (read it, embrace the oddity) and Ai Wei Wei turned that wonder and menace into art and protest and optical giddiness for miles.And as I searched for a background for my LinkedIn (the most important part, correct?) I came across the wallpaper he had designed to protest Twitter censorship. Naturally, I needed to update my Twitter aesthetics a bit. I filled Tumblr with his joyful self-portraits in the nude, plastered my Pinterest art board with his rainbow dragon creatures and the giant snakes he coils on ceilings. The background of my work computer I illuminated with his chandelier series.Images saturate my world because I am 25 and I use the internet for everything. It is easy to overload and difficult to find what is worthwhile. Ai Wei Wei doesn’t make art so that I can have something pretty to put up as my GooglePlus background, but in a world that is demanding I assert what images I find worthwhile, I am happy to choose his. And to look at this while I write to you.
Check out Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry on Netflix. It is a great introduction to him as an artist and as an activist. There’s a great episode on him on the podcast State of the Arts and right here in Boston, at the MFA, there is an exhibition featuring his work. Check out Megacities Asia and report back. Until next time,