Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is making headlines with his first music video. In the song titled Dumbass he sings about his time in jail in 2011. The video is about the Chinese zeitgeist, he tells DW.
DW: Mr. Ai, congratulations on your transition from artist to rock star! Why have you titled your first single "Dumbass?"
Ai Weiwei: Basically, China is in the "age of the dumbasses." There are different dumbasses, including me. Some dumbasses are intelligent, some are creative, some are childish and others are just boring. This song is dedicated to China's present era.
What exactly do you mean by that?
In the past few years, people have been discussing on the Internet whether China will change and if so, how. Many people there have had to face consequences for voicing their opinions and ideals. Some of them have often been incarcerated. It takes a toll on their health. They know the prison conditions are not optimal in China. I hope all people who listen to my music think of those people locked up in jails.
The words in the song are not the nicest …
I'll let the critics decide whether the music video is nice or not. My job is to articulate myself through art and music. Human beings have the means to do this and use them - that is a law of nature. I don't think my music is nice. It deals with pain and suffering and of course a lot of anger. China is not lacking in any of those emotions - not by a long shot.
Is music the right instrument for resistance?
Not really. Music is not resistance; music is love. The ideas in my music are all about love - love for the world, humanity, and for concern and understanding of our situation. Whoever thinks music is only an instrument of resistance is grossly underestimating it. But music can easily overcome high walls; it has the power to shed light on the crimes and defeat the brutality of authoritarian regimes.
Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist and dissident and was disappeared in 2011 for 81 days.
Interview conducted by Yutong Su