Program Type: 
Ai Weiwei

Documentaries by Ai Weiwei

July 08, 2012 - July 29, 2012
Screening Room


Documentaries by Ai Weiwei
Sun, July 8, 15, 22 & 29
Screening room
Admission per screening: $10 Regular / $8 YBCA Members

We present five rare films by Ai Weiwei, perhaps China's most famous artist and loudest critic. He calls these films "social documentaries." While two of them document large-scale art projects, the others are more akin to investigative journalism, with a deep commitment to shining light on acts of injustice.

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  • Fairytale
    Jul 8, 2012 1:00pm
    Screening Room

    Fairytale documents Ai Weiwei’s project of the same name for Europe’s most innovative art event, documenta 12, in Kassel, Germany in 2007. Ai Weiwei invited 1001 Chinese citizens of different ages and from various backgrounds to live in an abandoned factory for a massive-scale performance art project. It was the most sensational artwork at the exhibition. This 152-minute film documents the whole process, from the preparations for the project to the challenges the participants had to face before actually travelling to Germany as well as the artist’s ideas behind the work. (2008, 152 min, digital)

  • Disturbing the Peace
    Jul 15, 2012 1:00pm
    Screening Room

    Tan Zuoren is a civil rights advocate who investigated the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, including the deaths of 512 Wenchuan students, and the corruption which resulted in poor building construction. For his efforts, he was charged with “inciting subversion of state power.” During his trial, police violently detained witnesses, which is an obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to five years in prison. Disturbing the Peace is a confrontational film, with Ai Weiwei directly taking on the police and other authorities, and paying a heavy price for doing so. (2009, 78 min, digital)

  • Ordos 100
    Jul 22, 2012 1:00pm
    Screening Room

    Ordos 100 is a massive construction project in inner Mongolia, curated by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, who had previously worked together on Beijing's "Bird's Nest" stadium. One hundred architects from 27 countries were chosen to design a 1000-square-meter villa to be built in a new community. The 100 villas would be designed to fit a master plan designed by Ai Weiwei. In January 2008, the 100 architects gathered in Ordos for a first visit to the site. The film documents a total of three site visits, during which time the master plan and design of each villa was completed. As of this date, the Ordos 100 project remains unrealized. (2012, 61 min, digital)

    Double feature followed by So Sorry.

  • So Sorry
    Jul 22, 2012 1:00pm
    Screening Room

    Ai Weiwei travels to Chengdu to be a witness at the trial of the civil rights advocate Tan Zuoren, whom we first encountered in Disturbing the Peace. After being beaten by the police, Ai Weiwei traveled to Munich, Germany to prepare his exhibition at the Haus der Kunst museum. The result of his beating led to intense headaches caused by a brain hemorrhage, which was treated by emergency surgery. These events mark the beginning of Ai Weiwei’s struggle and surveillance by state police. (2012, 55 min, digital)

    Double feature preceded by Ordos 100.

  • One Recluse
    Jul 29, 2012 1:00pm
    Screening Room

    In June 2008, Yang Jia carried a knife, a hammer, a gas mask, pepper spray, gloves, and Molotov cocktails to the Zhabei Public Security Branch Bureau and killed six officers, injuring another and a guard. He was arrested on the scene and subsequently charged with intentional homicide. In the following six months, while Yang Jia was detained and trials were being held, his mother mysteriously disappeared. Ai Weiwei traces the reasons and motivations behind the tragedy and investigates a trial process filled with shady cover-ups and questionable decisions. The film provides a glimpse into the realities of a government-controlled judicial system and its impact on the lives of citizens. (2010, 123 min, digital)

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Related Programs

July 22, 2012
Screening Room
Youth Arts Lounge

Join YBCA:You for Dinner and a Movie: a double feature by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, then curator and Chinese contemporary arts scholar Britta Erickson will contextualize Ai Weiwei's history of artwork and activism over dinner.

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Curator Statement

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YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
Abundance Foundation
Koret Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Lam Research

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.