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Pale grey sculpture of hand grasping vase shape, on turquoise cover, Ai Weiwei The Liberty of Doubt in black font

Ai Weiwei: The Liberty of Doubt

Introduction by Elizabeth Brown
Introduction by Andrew Nairne
Contributions by John Tancock
Contributions by James J. Lally
Interviewee Ai Weiwei
Interviewer Andrew Nairne
Interviewer Elizabeth Brown


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  • Kettle’s Yard exhibition catalogue on the internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in which new and existing work will be shown alongside historic Chinese objects
Full Description

Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, exhibition catalogue on the internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (b. 1957, Beijing) in which new and existing work will be shown alongside historic Chinese objects. The exhibition will explore notions of truth, authenticity and value, as well as globalisation, the coronavirus pandemic and the current geopolitical crisis. Ai Weiwei will reflect upon the liberty in the West, in contrast to China and other authoritarian regimes, to question truth and authority, express doubt and seek transparency in political matters. However, in relation to art appreciation, the Chinese have a long tradition of a more fluid and less fixed view in relation to authenticity than is the case in the West, often valuing the act of copying. 

About the Author

A global citizen, artist and thinker, Ai Weiwei moves between modes of production and investigation, subject to the direction and outcome of his research, whether into the Chinese earthquake of 2008 – for works such as Straight (2008-12) and Remembering (2009) – or the worldwide plight of refugees and forced migrants – for Law of the Journey and his feature-length documentary Human Flow (both 2017). From early iconoclastic positions in regard to authority and history, which included Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn and a series of middle-finger salutes to sites of power, Study of Perspective (both begun in 1995), Ai’s production expanded to encompass architecture, public art and performance. Beyond concerns of form or protest, Ai now measures our existence in relation to economic, political, natural and social forces, uniting craftsmanship with conceptual creativity. Universal symbols of humanity and community, such as bicycles, flowers and trees, as well as the perennial problems of borders and conflicts are given renewed potency through installations, sculptures, films and photographs, while Ai continues to speak out publicly on issues he believes important. He is one of the leading cultural figures of his generation and serves as an example for free expression both in China and internationally. Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing and now lives and works in Berlin. His human rights work has been recognised through the Havel Prize for Creative Dissent in 2012 and Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award in 2015.

Andrew Colin Nairne OBE, is Director of Kettle's Yard, the University of Cambridge’s modern and contemporary art gallery.

John Tancock is an art historian and coauthor of Ai Weiwei: New York 1983–1993 (2012).

James Lally has been an active participant in the Chinese art market for more than 50 years. He was a director of Chinese works of art at Sotheby’s in New York and Hong Kong from 1970, and in 1983 he was named president of Sotheby’s in North America. 

14th Apr 2022
Paperback / softback
World excluding USA & Canada
255 mm x 195 mm
132 Pages
75 color
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