Being Real

Week 01a Being Real – Week 01


As our closing thought for today before our circle of appreciation, we would love to share the work of Ai Weiwei with you.

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1. ) To begin, though, we invite you to take up to two minutes to reflect and journal on the following questions:

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· What does it mean to you to “be real?”

· What does it mean to be really you? Who are you really trying to be?

· What does it mean to be real with others? For others to be real with you?

2. ) After you have finished journaling, please watch this clip from Ai and Bingham (2010).

3.) And then here are some thoughts on balancing your answers for being real with Ai Weiwei’s art.

4.) Take up to another two minutes to continue journaling, folding in your balance of what you wrote before about your own truth regarding reality and “being real,” the work of Ai Weiwei, and our course’s potential to create new possibilities from this artificial learning space.

5.) Post your thoughts on the discussion board and read/listen to what others share as well. Offer meaningful responses to others to generate new conversations and learning.

If you would like to watch or learn more about Ai Weiwei and his work check out these resources.

Ai Weiwei is an artist whose original focus was on being deeply connected to his artistic craft and Chinese culture (e.g. Moon Chest, Ai, 2008b) and his whimsical take on the present and future (e.g. Bird’s Nest, Ai, 2008a; Grass Mud Horse Style, Ai, 2012). He came to fame by bringing these two strands together in Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (Ai, 1995). He never planned on becoming political. The Szechuan earthquake changed this (e.g. Snake Ceiling, Ai, 2008c; Remembering, Ai, 2009). The reason why Ai can’t be present for the opening of Sunflower Seeds (Ai, 2010) and why he’s handcuffed in Grass Mud Horse Style (Ai, 2012) is brecause he is under house arrest for criticizing the Chinese government. Ai Weiwei’s art plays with what is reality. The sunflower seeds, the birds nest, and the snake/dragon aren’t real. They are all artificial. But the magic and brilliance of Ai is that they construct and convey new meaning about our senses, about human labor, about imaginary possibilities, and about painful social and political realities. How real are we willing to be? What are we willing to build together?

Ai, W. (1995). Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn.

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Ai, W. (2008). Bird’s Nest.

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Ai, W. (2008). Moon Chest.

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Ai, W. (2008). Snake Ceiling.

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Ai, W. (2009). Remembering.

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