Installed on the grounds of the Northwest Labs at Harvard University, Ai Weiwei’s Untitled is an extremely powerful, bone chilling reminder of life’s most excruciating moments. As one of China’s best known contemporary artists, the story of Ai Weiwei appears to have been excerpted from a novel. Having spent 20 years of his life in internal exile with his family, is only part of the Ai’s inspiring story. A story that continues to unfold to this day.
Ai Weiwei is one of three artists featured in the exhibition The Divine Comedy, curated by Sanford Kwinter of the Graduate School of Design. The exhibition seeks to explore the “emerging domain of experimental spatial practice where the concerns of art, design, and activism are powerfully converging today.”
The work Untitled comprises of 5,335 children backpacks, each symbolizing a child killed in the May 2008 Sichuan Province earthquake. Ai Weiwei organized a “Citizen’s Investigation” to cover 150 “tofu construction” schools in 74 towns and gathered the names of those children killed, names that were covered up by Chinese government authorities. Untitled becomes incredibly more profound with the accompanying sound piece Remembrance, a work that recites the names of the 5,335 children killed. It’s an overwhelmingly emotional piece, too emotional to even begin to comprehend the number of children’s lives taken away by the earthquake. Those who have an opportunity to experience Untitled are free to do so while the artist behind the work has suddenly disappeared. “I have to always to ask myself, ‘How long can I last?’ if I’m in extreme conditions such as jail” said Ai Weiwei in an interview with Dan Rather.
Please join me, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, Tate Modern, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and other institutions and people who have already signed the petition to release Ai Weiwei.