What is Ai Weiwei doing with 9000 children’s backpacks?

Ai Weiwei - Remembering, 2009
Ai WeiweiRemembering, 2009, 100x1000cm, Haus der Kunst, München (Germany)

ABOUT REMEBERING

In 2009, Ai Weiwei created a large 10x100m installation, made out of 9000 children’s backpacks. Displayed on the facade of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany, each backpack represents a life lost in the earthquake that took place in the Chinese province of Sichuan in 2008.

Ai used five different colors that make up the sentence For seven years she lived happily on this earth in Chinese lettering, a sentence with which a mother of one of the earthquake victims commemorated her daughter. The bright, vibrant colors, such as blue, red, yellow and green reflect the psyche of a child, their joy and innocence. In addition, the colors have been used for the Toys R Us logo.

ABOUT AI WEIWEI

Ai is known as one of China’s most provocative and vocal artists. His focus on human rights and social change eventually led to his detainment by Chinese authorities for nearly three months in 2011. The Chinese government later supplied charges of tax evasion against Ai, which he vehemently denies. Since his detainment, Ai has been kept under constant surveillance by the government—a circumstance that has led him to create a series of new works.

Ai Weiwei - Remembering -Haus der Kunst, Muenchen, Germany, 2009
Ai WeiweiRemembering (detail), 2009, 100x1000cm, Haus der Kunst, München (Germany)

Ai Weiwei - Remembering (detail), 2009
Ai WeiweiRemembering (detail), 2009, 100x1000cm, Haus der Kunst, München (Germany)

Ai Weiwei - Remembering (detail), 2009
Ai WeiweiRemembering (detail), 2009, 100x1000cm, Haus der Kunst, München (Germany)

Ai Weiwei - Remembering (detail), 2009
Ai WeiweiRemembering (detail), 2009, 100x1000cm, Haus der Kunst, München (Germany)
Photo: Flickr monocular

VIDEO

AUDIO

Ai Weiwei explains how investigating schoolchildren’s deaths in the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 spawned his mammoth installation.

 Photographs of missing children in the rubble after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Photograph  Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Photographs of missing children in the rubble after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake
Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

 

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