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Hanging Man: The Arrest of Ai Weiweiby Barnaby Martin
Synopses & Reviews
The gripping story of post-Mao China and the harrowing fate of the artist and activist Ai Weiwei
In October 2010, Ai Weiweis Sunflower Seeds appeared in the Turbine Hall in the Tate Modern. In April 2011, he was arrested and held for more than two months in terrible conditions. The most famous living Chinese artist and activist, Weiwei is a figure of extraordinary talent, courage, and integrity. From the beginning of his career, he has spoken out against the worlds most powerful totalitarian regime, in part by creating some of the most beautiful and mysterious artworks of our age, works which have touched millions around the world.
Just after Ai Weiweis release from illegal detention, Barnaby Martin flew to Beijing to interview him about his imprisonment and to learn more about what is really going on behind the scenes in the upper echelons of the Chinese Communist Party. Based on these interviews and Martins own intimate connections with China, Hanging Man is an exploration of Weiweis life, art, and activism and also a meditation on the creative process, and on the history of art in modern China. It is a rich picture of the man and his milieu, of what he is trying to communicate with his art, and of the growing campaign for democracy and accountability in China. It is a book about courage and hope found in the absence of freedom and justice.
"Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, the co-designer of the Beijing Olympics' celebrated Bird's Nest stadium whose international reputation blossomed with the Tate Modern's 2010 showing of the installation Sunflower Seeds, granted British journalist Martin (already an acquaintance of Ai's) an extensive multipart interview in the immediate aftermath of his 81-day detention by the Chinese government in April 2011. A still-dazed, but nevertheless expressive Ai, who remains under house arrest, describes the harrowing, absurd nature of his detention and interrogation by police and military personnel. The brutality of state power was nothing new to the artist; he grew up during the Cultural Revolution as the son of a famous poet and onetime friend of Mao, Ai Qing, who had fallen out of favor with the regime. Ai's account of his encounters with the Chinese police state comes in the same year as the memoir by poet Liao Yiwu (For a Song and a Hundred Songs) — whom Martin interviewed only a short while before Liao left China for exile in Germany. To the credit of this engaging and timely book, Martin takes care to establish the historical, political, and artistic context of Ai's work. Martin's discussion of the current mindset and political health of the Chinese Communist Party is inevitably partial, but the book serves as an excellent introduction to Ai and the power of contemporary Chinese art. 16 pages of full-color illus. Agent: Peter Bernstein, Bernstein Literary Agency. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Barnaby Martin is a journalist who has written for The Daily Telegraph and has spent many years living in China. He has written novels, some of which were bestsellers, under a pen name.
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