Ai Weiwei is without a doubt one of the most powerful multi-media and conceptual artists working today and a leading figure of political activism in the Arts. His complex and poetic works, which span over architecture, installation, photography, film and conceptual works, have been exhibited at prestigious art events and institutions all over the globe, reflecting on pressing political issues such as the global refugee crisis and the political situation in his home country of China, which has led to various measures against him by the Chinese authorities.

He was born in Beijing in 1957, where his family was exiled from due to this father, Ai Quing’s poetic activity, who was labelled an enemy to the Cultural Revolution. His father’s exile, who had to work cleaning public toilets to sustain their family, lived on vividly in Wei’s memory and has had a lasting effect on his artistic philosophy:

“And as a poet, as an artist, he worked so hard at first, and it was very impressive. He made those toilets very clean, and I think that the only rewarding feeling he could get was to make the toilets so completely clean. That act influenced me a lot. I think I’m a product of displacement. We were always being pushed by ideology and political conditions.”

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