Ai Weiwei's Blog:
Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009 (Writing Art)
by Ai Weiwei
translation by Lee Ambrozy
The MIT Press
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Ai Weiwei claims that he had only the faintest sense of what the Internet was when he began blogging in 2005. The Chinese artist, then famous for collaborating on the design for Beijing's Olympic stadium, had been invited to participate in a series of celebrity blogs hosted by sina.com, the mainland's largest Web portal. He became instantly obsessed with the possibilities of social media, blogging for hours each day. Over the ensuing three and a half years, he wrote more than twenty-seven hundred posts on everything from French footballer Zinedine Zidane to the architecture of Atlantic City to the election of Barack Obama. But one subject dominated Ai's digital writings: the social, political, and spiritual tumult that has attended China's economic rise.
Chinese authorities closed Ai's blog in June 2009. Now, about one hundred of his writings have been translated and collected in an essential book, Ai Weiwei's Blog. Ai might not have spent much time on the Internet prior to his rebirth as a digital activist, but he was certainly no media naïf. His father was a renowned poet who was denounced during the Cultural Revolution and sentenced to decades in a labor camp. Ai attended the Beijing Film Academy alongside Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou, and after briefly terrorizing the city's art establishment, he spent most of the 1980s and early '90s working and studying in New York. He became a star of the global art world in the 2000s, initially for his brash, irreverent defacement (or destruction) of centuries-old Chinese artifacts. He eventually moved toward more ambitious installation