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Date:
July 12
Time:
5:30 pm - 6:45 pm
Cost:
Free
Event Category:

Venue

A Zoom event under Chatham House rule

Two Lives, One Nation and Art Under Tyranny

Interest Group: Non-Fiction Books

Hosted by:
Peter Lamell
Dianne Jacobs

July 12 @ 5:30 pm - 6:45 pm

Free

Ai Weiwei – one of the world’s most famous artists and activists – in this memoir tells a century-long epic tale of China through the story of his own extraordinary life and the legacy of his father, Ai Qing, the nation’s most celebrated poet.

Hailed as ‘the most important artist working today’ (Financial Times) and ‘an eloquent and unsilenceable voice of freedom’ (New York Times), Ai Weiwei has written a sweeping memoir that presents a remarkable history of China over the last 100 years while illuminating his artistic process.

Ai Weiwei’s sculptures and installations have been viewed by millions around the globe, and his architectural achievements include helping to design the iconic Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. His political activism has long made him a target of the Chinese authorities, which culminated in months of secret detention without charge in 2011.

Here, for the first time, Ai Weiwei explores the origins of his exceptional creativity and passionate political beliefs through his own life story and that of his father, whose own creativity was stifled.

Once an intimate of Mao Zedong, Ai Weiwei’s father was branded a rightist during the Cultural Revolution, and he and his family were banished to a desolate place known as ‘Little Siberia’, where Ai Qing was sentenced to hard labour cleaning public toilets.

Ai Weiwei recounts his childhood in exile, and his difficult decision to leave his family to study art in America, where he befriended Allen Ginsberg and was inspired by Andy Warhol. With candour and wit, he details his return to China and his rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar and international human rights activist – and how his work has been shaped by living under a totalitarian regime.

At once ambitious and intimate, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: The story of two lives, one nation, and a century of art under tyranny (November 2021, translated by Allan H. Barr) offers a deep understanding of the myriad forces that have shaped modern China, and serves as a timely reminder of the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.

“Ai Weiwei is the kind of visionary any nation should be proud to count among its creative class. He has drawn the world’s attention to the vibrancy of contemporary Chinese culture” ― Time Magazine

“With uncommon humanity, humbling scholarship, and poignant intimacy, Ai Weiwei recounts a life of courage, argument, defeat, and triumph. His is one of the great voices of our time.”—Andrew Solomon

“[An] ambitious memoir… 1,000 Years of Joys and Sorrows touches on the inevitable contradictions of being an activist and an art superstar, but it is above all a story of inherited resilience, strength of character and self-determination” — Sean O’Hagan, Observer

Read the book, come with an open mind, hear differing perspectives in this intimate, digital format and uncover what your fellow readers think.

Other books this interest group is discussing:

 

Please to RSVP