The eternal optimist Ai Weiwei!

Ai Weiwei is one of the currently most renowned artists in the world. That isn’t simply due to his mostly conceptual art, but especially because of his political activism. Ai Weiwei lives and works in Beijing, China and criticises the communist government through his art, on his blog, on Twitter and in plenty of interviews. He’s walking on very thin ice and in 2011 was arrested and held under false pretext at an undisclosed place, without even his closest relatives knowing if he was still alive. At this time an international protest formed to free Ai Weiwei and at least since he has been known outside the artworld as well. While people on the streets were shouting out: “Free Ai Weiwei“ young journalist and documentary filmmaker Alison Klayman was sitting in the editing booth piecing together what would become her first feature film  Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. She had accompanied and interviewed the artist for three years and gotten insights to his thinking, private life and working process. Last night I went to see the films with Claudio…

Ai Weiwei is a great subject for a documentary film. He is charismatic, articulate and wonderfully optimistic. He speaks openly about his art and process of creation, about his political activism and the problems in his motherland. All the while he is very thoughtful, honest and humble. His activism stays within the system. Although he knows filing a complaint after being hit by a police officer will be rejected, he still follows through with the long bureaucratic process. He wants to test the system in order to make its flaws visible to itself and everyone. He plays on the mistakes and documents the situations on film. The fact that the police becomes the laughing stock again and again seems to be an everyday reality makes this all the more shocking.

Ai Weiwei fights for rights that are taken for granted in most Western countries like for example freedom of speech. He is a “brand for free thinking and individualism” he says smiling into the camera. When he walks across the field of individually painted sunflower seeds, which he had installed at the Tate Moderns turbine hall, it becomes evident who will hopefully harvest the fruit of his actions. The upcoming generation should not live in fear and repression but in freedom and with the right to shape their lives the way they wish.

Klayman filmed the inspiring artist from 2008 to 2010 and almost created an homage out of the material. The film doesn’t try to hide the admiration it has for the brave artist and thus only advocates and devotees of Ai Weiwei get a say in this film. Meaningful music is poured over some scenes like thick icing onto a cake and gets quite annoying at times. The film also doesn’t really have a structure. It’s neither chronological nor recognizably thematically organized. But even so the film is definitely worth watching to learn more about Ai Weiwei, his art, his motivations and inspirations. Plenty of close-ups take the spectator right  into the action and you are captured and moved by this spectacular persona. Thus even though the enthusiasm for the film fails to appear, any disappointment is washed away by the rapture about the subject entirely!

Diesen Artikel auf deutsch lesen.

<a href="" target="_self">Lia</a>