Spotlight on Ai Wei Wei: Chinese Artist and Activist with Dr. Alison Bracker

Spotlight on Ai Wei Wei: Chinese Artist and Activist with Dr. Alison Bracker


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The contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei has oscillated between captivity and freedom his entire life. Born in Beijing in 1957, he began making furniture, clothes, and bricks at an early age while exiled with his family during the Cultural Revolution. Today, he employs carefully-chosen materials to probe relationships between power, human rights, freedom of expression, and China's cultural history. "An artist must be an activist," he has exclaimed.

After Chairman Mao died in 1976, Ai Weiwei gained the freedom to pursue his education and travel. He lived in the US for 12 years before returning to Beijing and absorbing himself in China's cultural heritage. Our spotlight conversation will explore his turbulent history, dedication to activism through objects and social media, and breathtaking artworks via highlights from his career. We'll see how Ai wields specific materials to embody his commitment to freedom through key works, including his earliest yet most provocative performance, "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn."

Led by an expert on contemporary art, Dr. Alison Bracker, this Conversation will reveal why Ai Weiwei is one of the world's most fearless and significant artists. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the artist, his practice, and why he believes that fighting China is "my life's work."

For additional information about this Context series of Artist Spotlights, please click here.

Dr. Alison Bracker is an independent art historian specializing in the conservation of unusual materials in contemporary art. She co-edited Conservation: Principles, Dilemmas, and Uncomfortable Truths (Elsevier, 2009), praised as "one of the most significant books in the field of heritage conservation." Additionally, she has interviewed over 100 artists, curators, museum directors, and conservators about the ethics and issues arising from contemporary art conservation. Dr. Bracker also lectures and publishes on modern and contemporary artists more broadly, including Hugo Wilson, Lenz Geerk, Ai Weiwei, Anselm Kiefer, Édouard Manet, and David Hockney. Having spent her childhood in Los Angeles, she lived and worked in England for 25 years before settling in Nice, France.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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