Ai Ling

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Ai Ling - A Chinese artist, sculptor, photographer and political critic.

Submitted: September 06, 2013

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Submitted: September 06, 2013



As I write in my diary I realize that I have no one with me, the walls have become my friends and the bed is my solitude for the night. The bars are here to keep me from voicing my opinion within a country that disallows the freedom to speak against the government or to raise a point of concern against a certain issue. The Chinese government expects us to follow orders like loyal dogs in which they give us the occasional beating if we are one foot above the line. They expect us to come running to them when they order us to do so at the snap of their fingers just like a dog goes running to its master when the master blows his whistle. The Chinese government doesn’t understand that we are humans who will voice our opinions when we have issues with them. But I suppose it’s hard to do so when the government you wish to voice your opinion against is a corrupt government.

In 2008 an earthquake occurred in China and a school, called Xin Yen, was hit the most since the incident happened while the kids were at school at the time. The Chinese government investigated the incident and claimed that about 1000 people had died from the school. At the time I was in America working on my latest piece of photography. You might be wondering who I am, my name is Ai Weiwei. I was born and raised in China, I’m an artist and a photographer but this isn’t about me, it’s about the children who died in the earthquake. The Chinese government reported only 20 deaths from the school which wasn’t a substantial amount considering the earthquake was pretty harsh. Parents of the dead buried their children, paid their respects and grieved for them. A couple of days had passed after the incident occurred and some of the Chinese parents were beginning to question where some of their children were as they were reported missing.  The worried parents began asking the police of where their kids were and the police simply replied to them, “Sorry but if you haven’t seen your kids then they are dead.” This statement drove the parents into a wave of tears and complaints to the government on not doing anything. No one heard their cries and complaints, nobody except a German investigator by the name of Karl Sjneider. Sjneider believed there was more to this incident than the government was admitting and he went out there to investigate what had happened. However, upon reaching the Chinese school he found it difficult to communicate with the parents and the surviving students and teachers.

Karl called me one early morning while I was in America and asked me if I could come down to China and investigate this case with him since I am a political critic. I decided to go with it since China is my native country and I believe that I have a responsibility to help other Chinese citizens. The next day I flew in to China and without any delay I met with Karl. He was suspicious of the way government acted in taking care of the incident at the school and asked my help to go to the root of the problem. So we began interviewing all the parents whose children were either deceased or missing. We found that in fact there were more than 20 dead children and the Chinese government decided to post only the 20 names which were from a specific clan. Karl and I were shocked to find that an outstanding 2503 children and teachers had died in that earthquake.

After finding out all the dead children’s names and age I arranged them in alphabetical order and posted them up on a blog site and I made sure the blog was seen by everybody. Karl returned to Germany because he feared they would treat him badly or do something terrible to him since China is a communist country and everyone knows by now that the Chinese government does not abide by the rules of freedom of speech. I lingered on for 3 months to fight the fight to expose the cover up of the government. In those three months I was questioned by agents, arrested and beaten up by the police who are supposed to protect me. I wasn’t doing anything wrong as I just showed the people what they should’ve seen in the first place. They should’ve seen that China’s government is disgustingly corrupt. The names I had put up on the blog site was removed after a month and I tried to repost it on various blog sites but each time I posted a blog the government had it removed. I thought of giving up this fight and just ignoring the government’s scandal for the time being. I had settled down for about a week when the police came one night and raided my house. They destroyed my portraits, photography and everything I owned. But they wanted to hurt me deep inside so they sent a pointy spear straight to my heart; they took my wife. I felt helpless for an hour crying on the floor uncontrollably. I felt as if everything was over, my life reminded me of a play I read about this one time which involved this Italian scientist named Galileo Galilei who went against the practices of the Church during the 14th and 15th century . Just like me, he fought to bring about a new discovery and show the faults of the Church with the Church trying to dissuade him from doing so and like me, Galileo ended up being imprisoned for voicing his opinion.

It was in the dark living room where only the moon shone through the window that an idea so brilliant came to me. I realized that there was a massive art festival called the Yishu Festival where famous artists were invited to show their work. For two straight days I prepared a sculpture for the Yishu Festival and it turned out to look nice as it had a gingham color to it. I spoke to the director of the festival and asked him to let me present my artwork first and he was more than happy to let me proceed with my sculptor early in the festival. The plan was working perfectly.

It was the 25th of August 2008 when it was the day of the Yishu Festival. The director followed procedure by welcoming the people to the art festival and telling them about the history. The director told me that I had to present my work and give a short description of it. I nodded simply and went up to the stage to present my work.

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming to this prestigious art festival. This piece of artwork has certain significance to not only me but to a lot of other parents.” I took off the large cloth that hid the sculpture from the crowd. Upon unveiling it there was a loud applause, so loud that I could not even hear myself breathe nervously. The director asked me what it signified so I told them.

“This sculpture represents the Chinese government’s negligence to report to the public of the death of 2503 people in the earthquake that hit the Xin Yen School. This is a gift in respect to the dead and to honor them.” After explaining this to the crowd and director there was a silence. A silence which could drive even the sanest person mad. It drove me crazy so I stepped off the stage and I began walking home. While walking I asked myself if that presentation helped the people understand what the Chinese government is actually doing. I doubted my actions all the way home I didn’t even realize I reached my house. Upon opening my door I was attacked by police, they forced me down to the floor and their chief officer had a grin on his face. For the next 2 minutes I had 3 batons hit me all over my body numerous time, one of them even hit me head and left me with a huge bump and a throbbing headache. They beat me up until I could barely move and took me a jail cell.

So here I am. It’s now the 82nd day in this cell and I don’t have any friends to aid me in my fight against the government except Karl who visits me from time to time. Apart from him the walls are my friends and my bed is my solitude for the night. 

© Copyright 2018 Aiden Cobb. All rights reserved.

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