Directed by: Alison Klayman
New England Premiere
French/Italian/Romanian/Arabic with English subtitles
One of China’s leading contemporary artists, Ai Weiwei is also one of the country’s most vocal dissenters. He helped design the Beijing National Stadium—commonly dubbed the “Bird’s Nest”—for the 2008 Summer Olympics, but he later boycotted the games. His highly conceptual art may encompass a giant wall made out of 9,000 backpacks, but those backpacks visually spell out a message subtly protesting the disappearance of thousands of students who died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Even a warehouse-sized sandbox full of sunflower seeds not only creates an astonishing visual experience, but also makes a statement on individualism within a large culture that values conformity.
AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY gives ample time to the beatific but impassioned Weiwei’s exhibitions, artistic process (a team of “hired assassins” brings his ideas to fruition), and background—such as his parents’ exile during the Cultural Revolution and his time as a student in 1980s New York City. His greatest impact, however, lies in his desire to communicate with his fans and the world at large. When government authorities in China shut down his blog, he takes to using Twitter multiple times each day. His tweets enable him to document his travails, such as a case of police brutality that causes him to undergo brain surgery; but they also incite others to see and react to what occurs in a rapidly changing, but still mostly closed-off and heavily censored society.