Friday, December 21, 2012

Every artist needs a cat


I finally watched the documentary about Chinese artist/activist Ai WeiWei, Never Sorry. I thought it was terrific. I've liked his work for a long time, though not all of it. A lot of the 'confrontational' gestures, like raising the middle finger in front of monuments, are hardly outrageous in any part of the globe - unless there was a society that was isolated from the rest of the world for so long, and kept under the iron control of a totalitarian regime, that it simply had no contact with the social and artistic trends of, say, the USA, and so flipping the bird seems to be incredibly brave. Oh, wait ...

But I think his installations, when they hit the mark, hit it big, like the Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern that I did a piece about. And in watching this film, you realise that his opposition to the Chinese government is sincere, and that he has genuinely put his reputation and even his physical person in danger by pursuing it. I expected to finish watching the film having less respect for him, but instead I admired him a hell of a lot more.

And also, too: his home/studio compound in Beijing has dozens of resident cats, some of them even capable of opening doors. I have two cats, too, and for this reason, if for no other, Ai WeiWei is now in my top ten list of Great Artists and Yooman Beans.

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