Posts Tagged ‘aiweiwei’

“The Nine Lives of Ai Weiwei” Wins John Kobal Award at National Portrait Gallery

Ai Weiwei poses in front of his studio with one of his newfound cats.

I am very pleased to announce that I was given the John Kobal New Work Award in affiliation with the 2012 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portraiture Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in London this November. It was quite a whirlwind of an evening, and I must say I was completely honored to be awarded amongst all the great work that also hangs in the 2012 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portraiture Prize exhibition. I can’t encourage people enough to go visit and see for themselves. It will be hanging in the National Portrait Gallery until February 17, 2013. The portrait of Ai Weiwei was originally commissioned for Foreign Policy’s 2011 edition of the Top 100 Global Thinkers issue. It has since gone on to appear on the cover of the Telegraph’s Seven Magazine as well as in other media outlets. Check out the installation shots below. It stands right at the entrance of the exhibition. Critics seem to dig it so far. Lastly, here is the text from the accompanying catalog:

“Matthew Niederhauser’s fascination with China was forged during his high-school studies in Mandarin, and the American photographer now lives in Beijing, where he documents aspects of Chinese life for a range of publications including The New Yorker and Time. Artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, the subject of Niederhauser’s entry, has crossed those lines on many occasions. At the time the portrait was taken, as a commission for Foreign Policy magazine, Ai was being held under virtual house arrest and forbidden to leave China following his three-month detention a year earlier. Wanting to capture Ai with one of the many cats that hang around his compound, Niederhauser persuaded him to pose with a ginger stray, its colouring setting off the teal-blue gates of the studio. ‘There was a tense moment when I didn’t think the cat was going to cooperate, but it finally glanced back, allowing me to get a few frames with everything melding together.’

All selected photographers under the age of 30 were eligible for the first John Kobal New Work Award. The winning photographer receives a cash prize of £4,000 and a commission from the Gallery to photograph a sitter connected with the UK film industry. The Award was judged by Simon Crocker, Chairman of the John Kobal Foundation, and writer and journalist Liz Jobey, a Trustee of the John Kobal Foundation.”

Matthew Niederhauser, recipient of the John Kobal New Work Award during award ceremony of the Taylor Wessing Awards 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery on November 5, 2012 in London, England.National Portrait Gallery 2012 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portraiture Prize installation of The Nine Lives of Ai Weiwei

Cover clipping of the Telegraph Seven Magazine's The Nine Lives of Ai Weiwei

Interior clipping of the Telegraph Seven Magazine's The Nine Lives of Ai Weiwei

    Ai Weiwei/艾未未 Marches On – Portraits for Foreign Policy

    Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait with one of his cats in his studio compound.

    A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Ai Weiwei in his studio to take portraits for Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers list where he appeared at #18 in the rankings. He was very amiable and open to me directing him about his compound where I posed him with some of his favorite cats. Ai Weiwei is all over the news again. After a short period of silence following an 81-day incarceration, he continues to lash out at authorities and decry the trumped-up charges of tax evasion brought against him in an attempt to silence his outspoken criticisms. A recent Newsweek piece he penned where he related Beijing to a “nightmare” was especially noteworthy. This renewed vigor and boldness seem in large part due to the outpouring of support shown by anonymous Chinese donors who rallied behind him to raise $1.4 million to challenge his huge tax bill which he refers to as ransom money. Other admirers are finding more brazen outlets to show support by posting nude photos of themselves online in defense of other spurious pornography charges brought against Ai Weiwei for a set of revealing self portraits released on the Internet. To make things even more controversial, high profile figures are weighing in on the situation, including Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou who visited his current exhibition at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. It’s all quite a mess, but I am sure Ai Weiwei is pleased with himself for creating an even larger fuss than before his arrest – another great case of censorship backfiring in the face of the Chinese state.

    In a crazy sense I think the political space in China has truly transformed Ai Weiwei’s life into an interdisciplinary work of art or a “social performance” as he calls it. His invocation of the Chinese state’s ire came through a combination of critical sculptures, writings, photographs, videos and installations. While these separate pieces might not be interdisciplinary in nature, they have brought about a dynamic where every action or utterance of Ai Weiwei becomes performative in nature and open to intense analysis by journalists, officials, police and, increasingly so, the general public. His identity remains at the center and activates all of these mediums of expression, especially through the Internet which exponentially magnifies his impact. In a statistical sense, Ai Weiwei is not well known in China. Still, he is making waves where it counts and China’s intelligentsia is taking note. These are the people fashioning the new China, and his stand against censorship and political suppression is singular. By tapping into a populist sentiment with his donation drive, he is putting officials even more on edge. It’s a very crucial moment for Ai Weiwei right now. There is still a very distinct possibility he might disappear again.

    In other Ai Weiwei news, my friend Alison Klayman’s documentary, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, is set to premiere at the Sundance Festival in January. Check out the trailer and her appearance on the Colbert Report. It is very timely and should be a great film.

    Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.

    Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait with one of his cats in his studio compound.Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.

    Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in his studio compound.

    Ai Weiwei poses for Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers

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