Is Ai Weiwei’s Twitter Feed Art?
Can Twitter be art? Ai Weiwei certainly thinks so. For his latest project the Chinese artist and activist has transcribed his musings on Twitter between 2009 and 2013 into a traditional Chinese book, printed on rice paper.
The artwork written entirely in Mandarin is aptly titled An Archive and is a special commission which is part of a group show called Go East: The Gene and Brian Sherman Contemporary Asian Art Collection, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Ai told the Creator’s Project “I consider all of my expressions a part of my art. Sometimes it takes a traditional form of language and, at other times, it requires the creation of a new language.”
Speaking on the expensive process of print versus the wealth of content on Twitter, Ai acknowledged that “it’s a bit ironic to combine these two conditions together,” and that he aims “to justify and subvert both.”
He also claims that “An Archive contains more meaningful writings than Confucius or Lao Tzu ever wrote.”
Ai is banned from Chinese Twitter, Sina Weibo, and the Chinese government shut down the artist’s blog. So his publishing his tweets on paper falls neatly into the artist’s innovative activism through art.
“My focus is always on freedom of expression,” he said. “It is an essential quality of a free and civilized society. So while my focus has not changed, the form it manifests in can change.”
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