The Responsibilities of an Artist

Nexus Lecture Ai Weiwei
Become a Nexus member

Saturday 25 May 2019, 14.30–17.30, VU University Aula, Amsterdam
Dictatorship, human rights abuses, damage to the environment, the suffering of refugees – in his work, Ai Weiwei uncompromisingly addresses the most urgent issues facing the world today. His political activism and creative brilliance made him one of the world’s most appreciated and relevant artists, at great personal risk: he was arrested, had his passport confiscated and his studio destroyed by the authorities.

Who better to ask about the responsibilities of an artist than Ai Weiwei? What can art achieve in a time when dissidents are locked up and journalists murdered without so much as a second thought? How far can the artist go? How far should he go?

Suggested readings

Ai Weiwei. Beijing Photographs, 1993-2003
This book, prohibited from publication in China, offers an intimate look at Ai Weiwei’s world in the years after his return from New York and preceding his imprisonment. The photographs – more than 600 – capture Ai’s emergence as the uniquely provocative artist that he is today.

Ai Weiwei’s Blog. Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009
Manifestos and immodest proposals from China’s most famous artist and activist, culled from his popular blog, shut down by Chinese authorities in 2009.