SURVEILLANCE is a work about one individual’s struggle against an authoritarian state intent on silencing and intimidating dissidents. After the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, Ai Weiwei initiat- ed a Citizens’ Investigation to uncover the identities of the students that died as a result of collapsed school buildings. Due to this involvement, Ai became a target of state surveillance and harassment. These episodes are captured in Ai’s documentary films “Disturbing the Peace,” “So Sorry,” and in the music video “Chaoyang Park.” In 2011, Ai is arrested and placed in secret detention for 81 days. His studio in Caochangdi was also raided by the police. Documents and computers were seized, several colleagues were arrested and questioned. In 2015, during a renovation of the studio, Ai discovered that several listening devices had been installed in his home and office.
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Freedom is not an absolute condition, but a result of resistance.
- Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist (b. 1957)
Ai Weiwei and Zuoxiao Zuzhou, “Chaoyang Park” from The Divine Comedy, 2013
Disturbing the Peace, 2009
So Sorry, 2012
Chaoyang Park, 2013
Ai Weiwei studio production “LAO MA TI HUA” is a documentary of an incident during Tan Zuoren’s trial on August 12, 2009. Tan Zuoren was charged with “inciting subversion of state power”. Chengdu police detained witnessed during the trial of the civil rights advocate, which is an obstruction of justice and violence.
Tan Zuoren was charged as a result of his research and questioning regarding the 5.12 Wenchuan students’ casualties and the corruption resulting poor building construction. Tan Zuoren was sentenced five years to prison.