Despite travel restrictions, dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has collaborated on a photo project with US fashion magazine W. The photographs were taken in New York by photographer Max Vadakul, with Weiwei being thirteen time zones away in his Beijing studio, directing the shoot via Skype.
Since his arrest by Chinese authorities in April and subsequent release in June, Weiwei has been prohibited from speaking publicly, giving interviews, and must seek permission to travel outside his studio and home. These images were inspired by the 1988 riots in Tompkins Square Park as well as other scenes of arrest Weiwei has witnessed.
Meanwhile Another Magazine calls its latest issue Modern Dissidents, featuring interviews with Aung San Suu Kyi, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, and cross-dressing Turner Prize winning British artist Grayson Perry. This issue is a celebration of what Editor-In-Chief Jefferson Hack calls ‘cultural protagonists’ who walk their own path.
Cover of Issue 21 of Another Magazine
Ai WeiWei is the living definition of someone walking his own path, or being forced to walk is own path. Yet his creative process is actually a very modern one, working with others becoming part of the making of the art. In the W Magazine feature article, Ai says he is increasingly producing art that involves a team of people with him overseeing the work.
“The feeling and emotions were close, but the camera was so far away,” he told W magazine’s Diane Solway. “The process became a part of the work. Art is always about overcoming obstacles between the inner condition and the skill for expression.”
Solway also quotes a revealing recent interview with Chris Derson who oversaw Ai’s Haus der Kunst show and who is now the director of Tate Modern. It’s easy to see why the lone, dissident artist should value the unexpected inputs of others in the creative process.“I am putting less effort into personally producing the work,” Ai told Dercon, “Others executing the work always means there is a kind of surprise, as well as a form of collective wisdom.”