Ai Weiwei: grafting as a documentary tactic in art

Luísa Santos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


At its best, art confronts us with various realities and presents alternative ways to look at the world we live in, at social, economical, and political levels. In other words, art grafts parts of its perceptions in specific realities of the world to create something new. Ai Weiwei (b. 1957, Beijing) is recognized worldwide for his practice both as an artist and as an activist. Critical distance is crucial in Ai’s practice, particularly in the documentary context as it is what allows him to nurture and aim at detachment from his own presuppositions and from his own socio-historical context. This chapter discusses the relationship between social activism and visual representation in the work of the Chinese artist, focusing mainly on the documentary aspects of his recent body of work on the refugee crisis and his use of social media in the same context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical distance in documentary media
EditorsGerda Cammaer, Blake Fitzpatrick, Bruno Lessard
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783319967677
ISBN (Print)9783319967660
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2018


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