see: Nam June Paik and Ai Wei Wei retrospectives at the Smithsonian

Looks like the Smithsonian’s art programming is going to force my hand to act on my daydream of visiting DC. Both of these retrospectives sound too good to miss:

Nam June-Paik: Global Visionary
American Art Museum
Through August 11, 2013

Ai Wei Wei: According to What?
Hirschhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
Through February 23, 2012


Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry

Courage is envisioning and articulating freedom that is yet to be actualized. Angela Davis talks about this—imagining change is the first step of making change. One year after his release following months of detainment without due process, Ai Weiwei wrote:

I often ask myself if I am afraid of being detained again. My inner voice says I am not. I love freedom, like anybody; maybe more than most people. But it is such a tragedy if you live your life in fear. That’s worse than actually losing your freedom.

…none of us have been dealt with through fair play, open trials and open discussion. China has not established the rule of law and if there is a power above the law there is no social justice. Everybody can be subjected to harm…

Stupidity can win for a moment, but it can never really succeed because the nature of humans is to seek freedom. They can delay that freedom but they can’t stop it.

(“Ai Weiwei: to live your life in fear is worse than losing your freedom,” Guardian, June 21, 2012):

Further, even as a known target of one of the world’s most secretive and repressive governments, Ai remains an optimist:

What I gained from the experience is a much stronger sense of responsibility, and an understanding of what the problems are and how one can understand what’s happening and remain a positive force. You have to see your own position from the other side. At the same time you have to maintain a passion for what you are doing. You have to have sensitivity and joy. If you don’t have that, you will be like a fish on the beach, drying up on the sand….


63 days

Ai Weiwei was arrested/disappeared 63 days ago today. Except for a 30-minute visit from his wife, he’s been cut off from family, friends, and legal counsel. While spring unfolds with tornados, unseasonable rain storms and heat waves, and the art world’s focus turns to the Venice Biennale, the unjust detainment of critical voices, like Ai’s, his associates, and dozens of thinkers, continues in China.

It’s difficult to fathom the amount of time that’s passed since April 3rd, when Ai and his associates were taken away by police. A brief thought experiment might help: recall where you were in early April, and everything you’ve done since then—the accomplishments, the work, the setbacks, the people and places… For Ai it’s missing the closing of his show at Tate Modern, the opening of his Zodiac Heads in London’s Somerset House and New York’s Central Park, the release of his book by MIT Press, not to mention other professional, personal, and and political activities, or the basic human freedoms of movement, speech, association, etc…