Only a poet’s son would take wood and tea and mangled steel and send a message to the world. It was that poet’s son who stood in front of the White House and Tiananmen Square and raised a finger of offense and then photographed himself and called it art. The poet’s son, he’s the one that took pictures of backpacks of thousands of school children killed in China’s Sichuan Province in 2008, when poorly constructed schools collapsed on them during an earthquake.
The poet’s son, Ai Weiwei, who organized the reading of every one of those children’s names in his traveling art exhibit, was just one year old when his family was sent to Xinjiang province where his father, Ai Qing, was interned at a labor camp during the Chinese Anti-Rightist Movement. The year was 1958. In the next two decades, the Cultural Revolution would nearly finish the work of removing intellectuals from mainstream society.
But the heart of writers and artists and musicians would never be erased entirely from the Chinese culture because poets like Ai Qing did the most counter revolutionary thing they could. They passed along their creativity to their children.
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Today I am writing about Ai Weiwei over at Tweetspeak Poetry. Come on over and join me there!
Photo by The Shifted Librarian, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.