Seeing Red in China is kicking off a reading campaign the likes of which are not generally braved by blogs. We, and hopefully most of our readers, are very dedicated to the difficult task of making sense of China, and to that end we promote the reading of first-hand Chinese sources. We will write weekly posts about different books that will hopefully be interactive — not just reviews, but discussions. The following post is by new SRIC writer Hannah, who will kick off the campaign. We welcome all readers to write in comments and thoughts about the recommended selection beforehand, and we can incorporate those comments into the post (you can email your thoughts to Hannah@seeingredinchina.com). Otherwise, regular comments below are welcome as well.
As always, the China-watch news and blogs are all aflutter about Ai Weiwei. His tax evasion appeal in Beijing’s courts recently fell flat. His lawyer went missing the day before the trial. He suddenly appeared at a park in Beijing and punched a dude for talking smack about him on Twitter. His autobiographical documentary is due for release in the US in two weeks.
In AWW fashion, SeeingRed is going to celebrate the failure of his appeal by kicking off a reading campaign. The book is Ai Weiwei’s This Time, This Place, also unoriginally called Ai Weiwei’s Blog in English, and 《此时此地》in Chinese. It is our hope to spark discussion, enhance peoples’ awareness of current China events, and promote the reading of Chinese literature. If feedback is positive, we will continue to do communal reads of great Chinese books in the future.
Ai is likely the most high-profile cultural icon in China today. He is a lifelong artist, most well-known for having designed the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. He [was] a blogger, a critic of China’s moribund legal and political systems. His brazen sense of humor gives a steadfast finger to the CCP, notably at his River Crab Feast. He Tweets as if each Tweet were his last dying words — often to the annoyance of his followers, who can’t bear to part with him all the same.
Ai has been in and out of detention for a year now, having been charged with tax evasion. The case is following its predictable depressing route, exposing the dark circus that is China’s courts, and leaving all onlookers wondering how this cookie will crumble. His documentary, Never Sorry, will hit US theaters within the next few weeks.
Before settling for a theatrical understanding of the man, I encourage everyone to grab his book and flip through his essays. We will select several chapters of his book Ai Weiwei’s Blog and write about them weekly. I hope other people will read along and comment to create some discussion, so this won’t be like a Chinese-style class lecture.
And Here is the Chinese version. （中文版）
First essays to read: “Chinese Contemporary Art in Transition and Dilemma” 中国当代艺术的困境与转机 and “Who are You?” 你是谁？, to be discussed in one week. If you can read Chinese, do it! Happy reading.