Anyone familiar with Ai Weiwei’s art – the 60-year old has been hailed by ArtReview as the most powerful artist in the world and whose works includes sculpture, installation, photography, performance, filmmaking and architecture – understands that his activism is also his art, making Ai’s latest accomplishment, Humanity, a welcome addition to his body of work.
In this tome (edited by Larry Warsh and published by Princeton University Press), the prominent Chinese dissident offers a prescription for living in today’s world, specifically one in which more than 65 million refugees have been displaced as of 2018. Excerpts from Ai’s thoughts and aphorisms, this little blue book on the crisis should be required reading for all.
Easily fitting in the palm of one’s hand, Humanity features themes under various categories such as Borders, Crisis, Freedom and Action, with Ai’s maxims akin to tiny poetic gems. Small but mighty, these quotes should, if not spur the reader to direct action, at least shine a light on the refugee crisis that is, finally, a human crisis.
Here, then, is a sampling of literary nuggets that encompass a range of Ai’s thinking on humanity and mass migration, issues that have occupied him for decades and are more relevant today than ever before. Let the words sink in and resonate – and pick up a copy of Humanity today.
“I think that even in the worst conditions there is still beauty, and that’s what I always defend.”
“We have to protect other people just like we have to protect ourselves. Otherwise, anyone can be refugees.”
“Artists don’t have to become more political, artists have to become more human.”
“My utopian vision is based on the idea that all men are created equal and that life is precious.”
“Humans create the most ugly fences.”
“The refuge crisis is a human crisis. We all have a responsibility in this.”
This Just In! Ai Weiwei is planning several Los Angeles exhibitions, and in October he will have no less than three. Ai is taking over Jeffrey Deitch‘s new Hollywood gallery for his inaugural show, opening 9/29; he will also take over the ground-floor project space of the Marciano Art Foundation, opening 9/28; and, beginning 10/4, Ai will be showing marble sculpture at the new UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills. We can’t wait!