|"Sunflower Seeds" by Ai Weiwei at the Tate Modern|
Many of us at @Platea were stunned by the arrest and detainment of Ai Weiwei in Beijing earlier this month. That Ai Weiwei was taken as part of an ongoing clamp-down on citizens critical of their government only makes it worse. Ai Weiwei embraces the important function of art to comment on culture and sees the potential for social media not only to make art but as significant activists' tools.
|"Study in Perspective" (1995) by Ai Weiwei (via Artobserved.com)|
I could say more, but there are plenty of sites to find information about his work and his arrest. Try here, here, here, and here, for example.
|257 Hours. Photo by Jonny Gray|
|Porcelain sunflower seed via Pascale Petit's Blog.|
And so, the sunflower seed becomes a potent symbol for protesting the disappearance of Ai Weiwei. Marking his hours of detainment with seeds via social media demonstrates the power of a networked mass to defend the rights of individual freedom, to speak in support of human rights and social justice for all. It is important to note that these seizures and detainments are happening all over China, that Ai Weiwei is not alone.
|281 Hours. Photo by Jonny Gray.|
China is a growing world leader with significant cultural and economic power. But with great power comes not only great responsibility but also accountability. Ai Weiwei is not on trial; China is.