This collection of quotes demonstrates the elegant simplicity of Ai Weiwei's thoughts on key aspects of his art, politics, and life. A master at communicating powerful ideas in astonishingly few words, Ai Weiwei is known for his innovative use of social media to disseminate his views. The short quotations presented here have been carefully selected from articles, tweets, and interviews given by this acclaimed Chinese artist and activist. The book is organized into six categories: freedom of expression; art and activism; government, power, and moral choices; the digital world; history, the historical moment, and the future; and personal reflections. Together, these quotes span some of the most revealing moments of Ai Weiwei's eventful career--from his risky investigation into student deaths in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake to his arbitrary arrest in 2011--providing a window into the mind of one of the world's most electrifying and courageous contemporary artists. Select Quotes from the Book: On Freedom of Expression "Say what you need to say plainly, and then take responsibility for it." "A small act is worth a million thoughts." "Liberty is about our rights to question everything." On Art and Activism "Everything is art. Everything is politics." "The art always wins. Anything can happen to me, but the art will stay." "Life is art. Art is life. I never separate it. I don't feel that much anger. I equally have a lot of joy." On Government, Power, and Making Moral Choices "Once you've tasted freedom, it stays in your heart and no one can take it. Then, you can be more powerful than a whole country." "I feel powerless all the time, but I regain my energy by making a very small difference that won't cost me much." "Tips on surviving the regime: Respect yourself and speak for others. Do one small thing every day to prove the existence of justice."
Convincing people of the power of words is almost as difficult as convincing them of the power of art, but one man continuously manages to convince nations and peoples of both, despite his own homeland's firm stance against free expression. Imprisoned by the Chinese government, the irrepressible power of art emanates from creators like Weiwei even under social structures dedicated and dictated to stifling, censoring, and restraining such powers. Weiwei stands by his land, seeing both its potential for greatness and the destruction it inflicts while striving for the former. Here, Warsh has collected statements from Weiwei on topics ranging from technology to Twitter, freedom of speech to the power of action, and creativity to morality. Although loosely divided into chapters, the book and its brief but powerful quotations all reference back to humanity and the rights of all its members. Unfailingly pithy and refreshingly modest, the book reads quickly and conversationally. Inspirational through its simplicity and generating feelings of complicity, Weiwei succeeds in creating obsessed readers and his desire for obsessed citizens, in China and the world at large, cannot be far behind.