Ai Weiwei Quotes

Ai Weiwei (Chinese: ???; pinyin: Ài Wèiwèi, English pronunciation ; born 28 August 1957 in Beijing) is a Chinese Contemporary artist and activist. His father's (Ai Qing) original surname was written Jiang (?). Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government's stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called "tofu-dreg schools" in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing Capital International Airport on 3 April, he was held for 81 days without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of "economic crimes"

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Ai Weiwei


The Olympic Games are highly commercialised. They purport to follow the traditions of an ancient athletics competition, but today it is the commercial aspect that is most apparent. I have seen how, through sport, cities and corporations compete against each other for financial gain.

Ai Weiwei


For all the tough talk about China during the presidential debates, Romney and Obama evaded any mention of China's suspect human rights record, corruption, and rule of law. By not tackling these controversial topics, the candidates are protecting a strategic partnership with China at the expense of essential human values and beliefs.

Ai Weiwei


Historically, China is not a nation of sportsmen. We traditionally put more emphasis on being close to nature than pushing endlessly to excel. A philosophy that values tranquil contemplation of the landscape cannot easily be adapted to the Olympic slogan of 'higher, stronger, faster.'

Ai Weiwei


The 'Bird's Nest' National Stadium, which I helped to conceive, is designed to embody the Olympic spirit of 'fair competition.' It tells people that freedom is possible but needs fairness, courage and strength.

Ai Weiwei


The American experience influenced my understanding of individuality, basic human rights, freedom of expression and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

Ai Weiwei


To survive, China had to open up to the West. It could not survive otherwise. This was after many millions have died of hunger in a country that was like North Korea is today. Once we became part of global competition, we had to agree to some rules. It's painful, but we had to. Otherwise there was no way to survive.

Ai Weiwei


Widespread state control over art and culture has left no room for freedom of expression in the country. For more than 60 years, anyone with a dissenting opinion has been suppressed. Chinese art is merely a product: it avoids any meaningful engagement. There is no larger context. Its only purpose is to charm viewers with its ambiguity.

Ai Weiwei


Everyone wants an iPhone, but it would be impossible to design an iPhone in China because it's not a product; it's an understanding of human nature.

Ai Weiwei


This nation is notorious for its ability to make or fake anything cheaply. 'Made-in-China' goods now fill homes around the world. But our giant country has a small problem. We can't manufacture the happiness of our people.

Ai Weiwei


This week, the world gathers in Beijing for the 2008 Olympic games. This is the extraordinary moment China has been dreaming of for 100 years. People have been longing for this moment, because it symbolises a turning point in China's relationship with the outside world.

Ai Weiwei


To the media, I have become a symbolic figure, critical of China. According to the government, I am a dangerous threat.

Ai Weiwei


The Chinese art world does not exist. In a society that restricts individual freedoms and violates human rights, anything that calls itself creative or independent is a pretence. It is impossible for a totalitarian society to create anything with passion and imagination.

Ai Weiwei


Now the British are coming. I think Cameron should ask the Chinese government not to make people 'disappear' or to jail them merely because they have different opinions.

Ai Weiwei


Censorship is saying: 'I'm the one who says the last sentence. Whatever you say, the conclusion is mine.' But the internet is like a tree that is growing. The people will always have the last word - even if someone has a very weak, quiet voice. Such power will collapse because of a whisper.

Ai Weiwei


Police in China can do whatever they want; after 81 days in arbitrary detention you clearly realise that they don't have to obey their own laws. In a society like this there is no negotiation, no discussion, except to tell you that power can crush you any time they want - not only you, your whole family and all people like you.

Ai Weiwei