Alamy Stock Photo In nature there are two approaches to dealing with flooding. One is to build a dam to stop the flow.
By Murray Whyte Visual arts Thu. Five-ish stories above King Street one recent morning, Ai Weiwei wore the many miles and plus cities of the trans-national promotion tour for Human Flow, his new documentary on the endlessly cascading global refugee crisis, like a yoke around his neck.
The film opens Oct. Press interviews on movie tours, more often than not, are polished niceties, mimicking thoughtful conversion behind the thin veil of product promotion.
Ai clearly has neither time nor patience for such facades. Time is running out. Human Flow is as direct a film as Ai is a filmmaker.
He seems less comfortable here, in a plush private lounge at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, than he does on screen, moving over a full year between 23 countries where the flood of people cut adrift from their homes was most acute.
These are not easy places to be in: Enormous tent cities in Iraq, dusty byways of northeastern Africa, and most famously, the pebbly shores of the Mediterranean where, in Greece, a million refugees, mostly from Syria, landed in a month period.
In each case, Ai, who is perhaps the most famous artist in the world today, ceded the spotlight to his subjects, shifting back and forth from drone shots at altitude of teeming thousands, rivers of humanity trickling towards who knows what, to tight, one-on-one interactions.
He appears onscreen only a handful of times, and briefly; once, to comfort a woman on the verge of a breakdown. He caused a sensation recently with a photo of himself, prone on those same Greek beaches, which deliberately echoed the famous documentary image of drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdiwashed up on the same shore.
It did its work, as Ai had hoped, reinvigorating the refugee plight in the news, though he was the subject of intense criticism.
Ai, of course has always used his work, and his celebrity, as explosive fuel for his sharp political views. His art bled into activism, as a recent touring exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario made clear. Following the Szechuan earthquakes ofin which thousands of children were crushed when their schools collapsed, Ai made multiple installations exposing both the substandard construction of the buildings by the government and its reticence to publicly report the extent of the tragedy.
His dogged pursuit of the truth landed him in prison, on no charges, where he was tortured for months. Ai Weiwei's film Human Flow tries to put a face on the cascading global refugee crisis. But in it, Ai sees a more complex foe. But they have also brought a lot of regional instability — the concept of democracy, religiously and cultural, has brought a lot of instability to these societies.
So the west should have some vision for dealing with this — take responsibility, or face the consequences. New problems, of course, appear at every turn: The current crisis of Rohingya refugees fleeing genocidal persecution in Myanmar is too fresh to have even made the film.
Ai sees in the refugee crises the central hypocrisy of globalization. We are so stimulated, there is so much energy from mixing and enjoying difference. At the same time, we in the west refuse to provide a safe passage to the people who are crashed, and those reasons are hidden. It would be a very different map.
These borders are only there to stop the most victimized human beings seeking their next meal for their children. They would never understand this globalization.
People profit from it, and they have to acknowledge the cost of what they enjoy so much. But the truth is, most people have no idea what the refugee crisis is. It always comes down to some kind of struggle. It can take ages. But the human spirit — our will to be free, to have a chance, to communicate face to face, to shake hands and to share space — is much stronger than anything.
Correction — October 25, Oct 06, · Contemporary artist Ai Weiwei traversed the globe, visiting 23 countries, to shoot his documentary "Human Flow" about the global refugee crisis, his directorial debut. Oct 26, · Feeling a personal affinity to the refugees, Ai Weiwei began visiting camps in Greece, Syria, Turkey, Italy, Israel, and France.
It was a deeply personal journey for the artist, who understood the struggle they were facing: forced to flee and risking their lives to find a safe place to start over, the refugees now face rampant xenophobia and. chinese artist and activist ai weiwei captures the global journey of refugees in a new documentary film human flow.
it is the product of a full year traveling through 23 countries following the stories of individual refugees, filming their journeys across borders and documenting the scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact.
Ai has found refugees a suitable subject of identification. This identification can be taken further, a form of ritualised pornogrification that finds gold in crushing victimhood.
Few other current crises, to that end, provide raw material than the global refugee calamity stretching from the Middle East to Africa, a seemingly endless procession line of suffering and, for Ai, raw matter.
Art and Exploitation: Ai Weiwei, Dissidence and the Refugee Crisis The status of dissident offers a certain moral latitude in behaviour, and, in various cases, misbehaviour. The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is one such figure. He is a feted figure of dissent of the Chinese .
Art and Exploitation: Ai Weiwei, Dissidence and the Refugee Crisis. March 13, ; Written by: Dr Binoy Kampmark; Leave a reply; Ai Weiwei mimmicks dead Syrian refugee (image from heartoftexashop.com) Category: Your Say; permalink; Binoy Kampmark ; The status of dissident offers a certain moral latitude in behaviour, and, in various cases, misbehaviour.