#aiwwago curated by Twitter

  1. Ai Weiwei is arguably the most prominent activist and artist in China. His work has been exhibited across the globe, including the recent exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).

    Ai is equally renowned for his social media presence, which plays an integral part in his activism and artwork. He describes Twitter as the most important platform of our time:

    "Twitter is my city, my favourite city. I can talk to anybody I want to. And anybody who wants to talk to me will get my response. They know me better than their relatives or my relatives. There’s so much imagination there; a lot of times it’s just like poetry. You just read one sentence, and you sense this kind of breeze or a kind of look. It’s amazing," he said in an interview with Foreign Policy.

    With more than 225,000 following his main account, he leads no small city. “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” came to a close Oct. 27. The exhibit’s reach spread as visitors tweeted using the hashtag #aiwwago. This is a collection of those tweets — Ai Weiwei, according to you.

  2. One of the most striking pieces was Remembrance. The 25 foot by 58 foot board listed the names of more than 5,000 children who died when their poorly-designed school collapsed during an earthquake in Sichuan, China. Ai investigated their deaths when the government lacked transparency.

    PEN Canada invited Chinese writer Sheng Xue and members of the Chinese community in Toronto to read each of the names in different dialects. 
  3. Ai's artwork also brought home issues of censorship.
  4. Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression hosted "Freedom of Voices" at the AGO. The evening featured former PEN Canada president, Charlie Foran. 
  5. "Artists often push the boundaries of free expression. Why do you think free expression matters?" asked PEN Canada at our letter and video booth housed in the exhibit.
  6. One of the defining characteristics of Ai's art and activism is the emphasis he puts on interaction, be it through social media or the creation of new art.
  7. The exhibit has moved on but the tweets and other social media content have kept the exhibit alive online. You can also see a catalogue of some of Ai's artworks on the AGO website here.
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