Artist Ai Weiwei warns against hubris in ‘troublesome’ times

Chinese dissident and artist Ai Weiwei warns against hubris in what he calls “one of these tough time” with his first glass sculpture, made at the Venetian island of Murano, with the foreboding subtitle: “Memento Mori,” Latin for “Remember You Must Die.”

Russian bombs fall on Ukraine. China is flexing its military muscle inside the Taiwan Strait. Migrants die repeatedly at sea as smugglers’ boats sink. The Earth warms, developing drought, collapsing glaciers and triggering violent storms. The pandemic lingers.

“We are speaking about many, many things. We are speaking about immigrants, approximately deaths, approximately the battle, approximately many, many troubles,″ Ai told The Associated Press in Venice on Friday.

He stands by his 9-meter (29.Five-foot), almost three-ton black glass sculpture, which is suspended over the vital nave of the deconsecrated church of San Giorgio Maggiore, located opposite Venice’s St. Mark’s Square. Titled “The Human Comedy: Memento Mori,” the sculpture is the center piece of an Ai show off on the church that opens Sunday.The large striking paintings is a part chandelier, component ossuary, with intricately hung molded glass skeletons and skulls, each human and animal, balanced with glass-blown human organs and scattered likenesses of the Twitter hen emblem and surveillance cameras, hinting at the darker aspect of era.“We see the environment completely disappearing, being destroyed via human beings’ effort … And as a way to create a much bigger catastrophe or famine. Or conflict, there’s a probable political battle among China and the West″ as China asserts more manage over Hong Kong and threatens manage over Taiwan, Ai stated.

“We should reconsider approximately people and legitimacy within the environment. Do we simply deserve this planet, or are we simply being so short-sighted and racist? And very, very simply self-demanding, selfishness,″ the artist introduced.

The showcase additionally capabilities smaller glass sculptures. One depicts Ai himself as a prisoner, a reference to his months in a Chinese jail in 2011. Another imposes his distorted face on a reproduction of an 18th-century statue titled “Allegory of Envy.″ A timber sculpture of a tree trunk fills a vestry. Colored glass tough hats save locations inside the choir. Lego-brick portrait replicas of famous artwork and the Chinese zodiac line the walls of adjoining rooms.Ai stated he thinks Russia’s invasion of Ukraine gave Chinese authorities a “ability version” to apprehend how such an operation may play out in Taiwan, without serving either as encouragement or caution.

“I think China is part of the worldwide energy battle that displays our cutting-edge know-how and the traditional belief about territory and who has the proper to do what,″ he said. ”What what occurs inside the Russian and Ukraine struggle offers China a clean maybe intellectual workout approximately what they need to do in Taiwan, if it’s miles wished.″

But the artist says any Chinese invasion of Taiwan could be a mistake and a false impression of Taiwan’s records.

“The Chinese think that Taiwan belongs to China, but in fact China and Taiwan were apart for over 70 years. They have their own social shape, that is more democratic and greater peaceful than in China,″ he said. Any movements with the aid of China to claim Taiwan by using force will result “within the closing struggle.″He sees the battle in China as one for legitimacy of authorities’ manage, whilst the assignment in the West is the continual want to defend democracy and with it freedom of speech. The West’s Achille’s heel is its financial dependency on China’s reasonably-priced manufacturing, he said.

“That is why China is so confident,″ Ai stated. ”They recognize the West cannot stay with out China.”

He stated instances of Western hypocrisy, which includes the rejection by means of fairs in Europe and the US of films he made at some stage in the pandemic depicting Wuhan’s first lockdown and the struggles in Hong Kong.

After praising the films, festivals in the long run give “the remaining phrases, we cannot display it,″ out of fear of losing access to the Chinese market, Ai stated.

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