Ai Wei Wei
Ai Weiwei, (born 1957, Beijing) is a leading Chinese artist, curator, architectural designer, cultural and social commentator and activist. Ai is known for the design of the Beijing National Stadium, more commonly known as the "Bird's Nest", the main stadium of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Beginning with the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Ai has emerged as one of China's most influential bloggers and social activists; he is known for his tongue-in-cheek and sometimes vulgar social commentary, and has had frequent run-ins with Chinese authorities. He was particularly focused at exposing an alleged corruption scandal in the construction of Sichuan schools that collapsed during the earthquake.
Born in Beijing, his father was Chinese poet Ai Qing, who was denounced during the Cultural Revolution and sent off to a labor camp in Xinjiang with his wife, Gao Ying. Ai Weiwei also spent five years there. Ai Weiwei is married to artist Lu Qing. Ai Weiwei is represented by Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne.
In 1978, Ai enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy and attended school with Chinese directors Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. In 1978, he was one of the founders of the early avant garde art group the "Stars", together with Ma Desheng, Wang Keping, Huang Rui, Li Shuang, Zhong Acheng and Qu Leilei. In China the group subsequently disbanded in 1983. Yet Ai Weiwei participated in regular Stars group shows, The Stars: Ten Years, 1989 (Hanart Gallery, Hong-Hong and Taipei), and a retrospective exhibition in Beijing in 2007: Origin Point (Today Art Museum, Beijing).
From 1981 to 1993, he lived in the United States, mostly in New York, doing performance art and creating conceptual art by altering readymade objects. While in New York, he studied at Parsons School of Design.. In 1987 he took part in the founding of The Chinese United Overseas Artists Association, along with Li Shuang, Qu Leilei, Zhang Hongtu.
In 1993, Ai returned to China because his father became ill. Back in Beijing, he helped establish the experimental artists' East Village and published a series of three books about this new generation of artists: Black Cover Book (1994), White Cover Book (1995), and Gray Cover Book (1997).
In 2000, he co-curated the notorious art exhibition "Fuck Off" with curator Feng Boyi in Shanghai, China. In 2000, Ai Weiwei moved to Caochangdi where he built a compound of houses and opened his studio REAL/FAKE. In 2006, Ai Weiwei and HHF Architects designed a private residence in Columbia County, New York. According to the New York Times, the house was completed in 2008 and is "extraordinarily refined".
Ai was the artistic consultant for design, collaborating with the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, for the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics, also known as the "Bird's Nest." Although ignored by the Chinese media, he has voiced his anti-Olympics views. He later distanced himself from the project, saying, "I've already forgotten about it. I turn down all the demands to have photographs with it," saying it is part of a "pretend smile" of bad taste.
In August 2007 he also accused those choreographing the Olympic opening ceremony, including Steven Spielberg and Zhang Yimou, of failing to live up to their responsibility as artists. Ai said "It's disgusting. I don't like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgment." While being asked why he participated in the designing of the Bird's Nest, Ai replied "I did it because I love design."