STUDENTS’ NAMES is a work depicting the names of the student victims discovered in Ai Wei- wei’s Citizens’ Investigation. Facing a lack of transparency from the Chinese authorities over who perished in the shoddily built school buildings, Ai initiated a Citizen’s Investigation to uncover the names of all the students that lost their lives. Ai and his team of volunteers identified 5,126 student victims.
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In the death of a student, I saw the death of society.
- Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist (b. 1957)
Zuoxiao Zuzhou, “5.12遇難學⽣生名錄錄”
Names of the Student Earthquake Victims Found by the Citizens’ Investigation, 2008-2011 Little Girl’s Cheeks, 2009
On May 12th, 2008 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in China’s south-western Sichuan province. More than 10’000 people were believed to be dead, school buildings had collapsed due to shoddy construction. When the Chinese government failed to release the number and names of students that perished, the lack of transparency was suspicious. Ai Weiwei organized the Citizens’ Investigation, which was comprised of a hundred volunteers whose purpose was to account for and seek an explanation for the total number of student casualties. 5’196 students were identified during the three year long investigation, which covered 14 counties, 74 townships and studied the conditions of 153 schools affected by the earthquake.
This wallpaper shows the result of the investigation, including details about the students, such as their age, region, school, and grade.
Website archive of the Citizens’ Investigation, published on the ten year anniversary of the earthquake