Ai Weiwei – Timeline | DocFilm | DW | 09.06.2017
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Ai Weiwei – Timeline

28 August 1957:  Born in Beijing.

1958: His family is banished to the Gobi Desert by the government of Mao Zedong.

1978: Enrolls at the Beijing Film Academy. Creates his first works. Co-founds an avant-garde art group, The Stars. It protests against censorship and is soon banned.

1981: Goes to New York. Studies briefly at the Parsons School of Design and lives in the East Village. Earns money as a street artist and gambling at casinos.

1993: Returns to Beijing after his father falls ill. Ai Weiwei produces work and criticizes the regime. He soon becomes one of the leading artists in China.

2007: Brings 1001 Chinese people to the Documenta 12 contemporary art exhibition in Kassel, Germany, for his 'Fairytale' project. It costs 3.1 million euros and receives international attention. His installation 'Template' is considered the most spectacular work at Documenta. It was made of wooden doors and windows from Ming and Qing Dynasty houses demolished to make way for new development in China's construction boom. The installation collapses in a storm.

2008: Joins the Swiss architects Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron in designing a new National Stadium for the Olympics in Beijing. He also criticizes the Chinese government.

2009:  Compiles a list of the names of the children killed when their schools collapsed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. This is in protest at shoddy construction. His assistants are detained. In August, Ai Weiwei goes to Chengdu to testify at the trial of rights activist Tan Zuoren. He is beaten up and detained for several hours by local police. He misses the hearing.

2009 - 2010: While setting up his 'So Sorry' exhibition at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Ai Weiwei is hospitalized. He undergoes surgery for a brain hemorrhage that resulted from the beatings at the hands of the police in Chengdu.

2010: Ai Weiwei wants to throw a party in order to draw attention to the authorities closing down his new studio in Shanghai. But he is put under house arrest in Beijing before he can set off.

2010 -2011: Exhibition at the Tate Modern in London entitled 'Ai Weiwei – Sunflower Seeds'.

2011: Ai Weiwei is seized on April 3 at Beijing airport and held in detention for 81 days. His whereabouts are not known. Police search his studio and question his employees. His company is accused of tax evasion. The Chinese government is not moved by international protests calling for his release. In May, the Academy of Arts in Berlin makes Ai Weiwei a member. On June 22, he is released but placed under house arrest and is not allowed to travel.

2011-2015: Ai Weiwei is not allowed to leave China. He cannot attend a number of his exhibitions, including 'Evidence' at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, his largest solo show to date, and one at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

2015: On July 22 Ai Weiwei gets his passport back and moves to Berlin, where his girlfriend and their son are already living. He sets up his studio at the Pfefferberg complex. He assumes the Einstein Visiting Professorship at the Berlin University of the Arts. His seminar focuses on the theme of refugees and migration, as do his art projects and the documentary he is working on, 'Human Flow'.

2016: The refugee crisis in and around Europe is the theme he addresses in a number of works: An installation of life vests tied to the columns of the Konzerthaus in Berlin; 'F Lotus', made up of floating life jackets in the lake at Belvedere Palace in Vienna; 'translocation – transformation' solo exhibition at the 21er Haus Museum of Contemporary Art nearby; 'Libero' at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence; and 'Law of the Journey' at the National Gallery in the Czech capital Prague.


2017: 'Maybe, Maybe Not' opens on June 2 at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. 'Hansel & Gretel opens in the Armory in New York


And looking ahead...

Ai Weiwei's documentary 'Human Flow' is set to premiere in the summer.

In October, his public art project 'Good Fences Make Good Neighbors' will be installed at various locations across New York City.

WWW links