We sometimes ask ourselves, at least I do, what are our limits to design and art? Sometimes it seems like anything is possible when it comes to design and there are almost no limits. Apparently there are and if you happen to cross this particular one, you better prepare yourself to stand up and fight or give in. What would you do and what am I talking out? I’m talking about Ai Weiwei, a well-known Chinese artist, designer and someone who isn’t afraid to challenge his government. When it comes to his work, Ai Weiwei is known as an artist who mixes his art and politics with no fear of speaking his mind about Chinese government censorship and its legal system.
His installation piece in Munich, Remembering, does just that, remembering the lost lives of children in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and challenging China’s construction and building codes weakening foundations of schools leading to the thousands of deaths. The installation consists of 9,000 backpacks with the words of a mother who had lost her child in the earthquake: “She lived happily for seven years in this world.”
In 2009, Ai Weiwei’s blog was shut down and any post concerning the earthquake was deleted. From then til today, Ai Weiwei was detained by China’s government for 81 days and released last June. His architecture firm is now being shut down by the government along with numerous accusations. Before I knew about this project and looked in to anything else about him, I had only watched a 2.5 minute documentary preview about Ai Weiwei and was already filled with admiration. Design is suppose to be expressive, doing the unthinkable, making change and affecting the people around us. Ai Weiwei reminds us all just that. Art and architecture may have limits but that doesn’t mean we cannot push them or fight for what we believe design can teach us. Obviously I am shocked at the actions China’s government has taken upon Ai Weiwei but my real focus in the end is the people out there that are willing to push the limits in a whole different way.
Ai Weiwei says in his upcoming documentary:
“Freedom is a pretty strange thing. Once you’ve experienced it, it remains in your heart, and no one can take it away.”
http://www.archdaily.com/278594/ai-weiwei-never-sorry/#more-278594 (documentary preview)