Posts Tagged ‘studio’



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



    Wordy Soulspeak Album Release: Dirty Beijing Hip Hop

    DJ Wordy and Soulspeak kicking it in the studioDJ Wordy and Soulspeak kicking it in the studioDJ Wordy and Soulspeak kicking it in the studio

    DJ Wordy and Soulspeak kicking it in the studioDJ Wordy and Soulspeak kicking it in the studioDJ Wordy and Soulspeak kicking it in the studio

    Over the first half of this year it’s been my pleasure to hang out with DJ Wordy in his Sanlitun studio as he collaborated with Soulspeak on the aptly named Wordy Soulspeak instrumental album. The release party is this Friday, May 27 at Yugong Yishan – be there or be square. All I can say is that the beats are DOPE, and many of the tracks are getting lots of play on my iPod (check out this posting for shootouts for the album from Pete Rock, RZA, Kidd Koala and more). DJ Wordy and Soulspeak are really trying to step up the quality of hip hop production in China. This album is a great first step in the direction of trying to get together the best producers with the best MCs in the country. Hopefully there will be a remix of some sort with all the Beijing heads spitting rhymes over it. Right now I feel the big thing holding back hip hop in China is the lack of collaboration between the beat makers and the freestylers as well as a lack of impetus to get things out on a consistent basis. People are starting to wake up though, and I hope to see a bunch of new hip hop albums released this year. Check out the Wordy Soulspeak video promo I put together below, complete with interview and studio tour. Stay tuned for more.





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