Press freedom in society perhaps received its most uncompromising criticism in the hands of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Fortunately or unfortunately, the narrative has not yet lost into the oblivion and is still pertinent to our contemporary society where state-controlled media is actively used to spread propaganda and to spoon feed ideologies.
A 61-year-old Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei has been most vocal about such vigilantism verging on absolute voyeurism through his art. Although it has put him behind bars a countless number of times yet nothing had stopped this man from renouncing state vigilantism and curbing of human rights in China. Viewed as a threat to “harmonious society” he has managed to continue his work taking resort to various social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, gaining mass support and appreciation in the process.
Inglorious time for independent artists
Ai Weiwei decided to work in China under heavy censorship and police precisely because to spread awareness, to ensure the mass that dissent is not a crime. His work continuously pushed the boundaries, and at a time when several media houses are covering under the imposing state power, Weiwei received an over-whelming admiration for his Sunflower Series. It was an exhibition that took place in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. In this he showcased million handcrafted sunflower seeds of porcelain, dispersed in space- an allusion to the tumultuous relationship between the rulers and the ruled in China.
This man has left his imprints and stands for the true spirit of democracy by condemning a fascist regime that forces individuals to shun their very “individuality”. Trained in New York, Ai Weiwei has taken up social issues, unabashedly, voicing an opinion through the medium of photography, sculptures, blogs, tweets, and the like. Ai’s is a voice that cannot be muted nor can be influenced, he is the lone warrior who has passionately kept on with his work even after the demotion of his Shanghai studio by the Chinese state. Over the years, he has devotedly worked for refugee issues and immigration, the problem of disenfranchisement. If one can follow his timeline and tribulations, one would come to know about the monstrosity of state power over basic human rights. In the time of censorship on artists, house raiding, seizing of books and pamphlets, Ai Weiwei remains the light at the end of a long winding and murky tunnel.