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SICHUAN EARTHQUAKE
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SICHUAN EARTHQUAKE consists of artwork, photographs, and video related to Ai Weiwei’s activities surrounding the Citizens’ Investigation into the student deaths resulting from the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. A structural element of the investigation was Ai’s documentary film “Little Girl’s Cheeks,” which included interviews with the parents of the student victims. In 2009, Ai had his first major solo exhibition in Germany at the Haus der Kunst in Munich. He created “Remembering,” an installation of colorful student backpacks hung on the museum’s facade that spelled out the words of one grieving mother: “She lived happily for seven years in this world.” Ai also collected the mangled rebar from the collapsed school buildings and had them meticulously straightened in a work titled “Straight.”

Video edited by:
Cui Xing

Quotes:
If you seek to understand your motherland, you are already on the road to becoming a criminal.
- Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist (b. 1957)

Music Credit:
Zuoxiao Zuzhou, “⼀一顆⼼心 雲的南⽅方”


Artworks:
Little Girl’s Cheeks, 2009
Remembering, 2009
Straight, 2008-2012

“Citizens aren’t soft persimmons, and who you offend today may not be so easy to push around tomorrow. Don’t take and eat, and then turn around and feign ignorance.”

Ai Weiwei May 27th, 2009

Little Girl's Cheeks, 2009 (full documentary)
Straight, 2008-2012

In Straight , Ai uses rebar recovered from the rubble of collapsed schoolhouses in Sichuan following the 2008 earthquake. The artist had every piece of mangled rebar straightened through a laborious process. The large divide in the piece is reminiscent of both a ground fissure and of a gulf between values. This massive work serves as a reminder of the repercussions of the earthquake and expresses the artist’s concern over society’s ability to start afresh “almost as if nothing had happened.”

Remembering, 2009

For his exhibition at the Haus der Kunst, Ai designed a new work for the outer facade of the museum. The installation, titled Remembering, consisted of over 9,000 colored, student backpacks. The backpacks spelled out a quote in Chinese characters. The qoute read, “She lived happily for seven years in this world.” This quote was from a mother whose daughter died in the earthquake.