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Posts tagged with ‘Ai Weiwei’

Ai Wei Wei Back in the Day

December 26, 2008


Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 1983


Flea Market at Union Square. 1987


Chen Kaige. 1985

Before he was a superstar artist and architect, Ai Wei Wei spent ten years in New York City, photographing his friends and capturing everything he saw.

Ai Weiwei on his NYC photos:

These photos were taken between 1983 and 1994 during the decade I spent living in New York before returning to Beijing. At that time, I didn’t really have anything to do. I was just hanging out, whiling away my time everyday by taking pictures of the people I met, places I went, my friends, my neighborhood, the street and the city.

In a flash twenty years have past, and the New York I knew no longer exists. The appearance of the East Village has totally changed, and many of the people in my photographs are no longer in this world. I took these photos casually, and most of my subjects probably don’t even realize that they are in them. Today, looking back on the past, I can see that these photographs are not true anymore. After all, any reality is just a fact of change – an unconfirmed moment in the slow march of time. The present always surpasses the past, and the future will not care about today.

What drives me to organize and publish these photographs is not nostalgia, for I believe that past occurrences do not matter much. We are not destined to meet those whom we’ve met, and humans are by nature lonely. Rather, the photos themselves are concrete objects that form a kind of orderly arrangement despite their free-floating nature as disassociated images on photo paper. The specific people and things involved, including my own past, are not important anymore.

Life in the past fifty years has been much like a falling leaf with no goal or direction. In the end, however, the leaf will land in some corner. The images’ appearance and order are much like this. They are disorganized, but paths of thought appear that seem most clear when the photos are all mixed up.

Today, I still always have a camera in my hand, accustomed as I am to the click of the shutter. What I should explain though, is that I am not interested in photography, and don’t really care about the subjects of my photos. In the end, they are part of a different reality than that of my own existence. Every time I look at these photographs, I always discover that there is more strangeness in them than familiarity.

A selection of Ai Wei Wei’s photos are being exhibited at Three Shadows in Beijing through April 2009.

All images courtesy of Three Shadow Photography, Beijing

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Bird’s Nest Good Times

May 29, 2008

My lovely cousin Ying is a student at Beijing Normal University and was chosen to be a volunteer for the upcoming games. Since we won’t be there in August, she was kind enough to give me a sneak preview of the interior of the Bird’s Nest during the Good Luck Beijing 2008 China Athletics Open. Below are photos she and her friends took during the competition.


Some comfortable-looking chairs in what appears to be the VIP section of the bleachers. As everything is “VIP” in China, it will be interesting to see how far they take things. Super VIP?


Interesting ceiling at the entrance.


My cousin, her friend and another view of the stadium, this time with less comfortable-looking seating.

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