Review: A political artist talks humanity, refugees and mass migration

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This precious blue book is a compilation of famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s (pictured) thoughts. (AFP)
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This precious blue book is a compilation of famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s thoughts.
Updated 22 April 2018
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Review: A political artist talks humanity, refugees and mass migration

BEIRUT: This precious blue book is a compilation of famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s thoughts on the global refugee crisis, edited by prominent American collector and publisher Larry Warsh. “Humanity” is full of important messages that can be delivered at any time, hence the handy, bag-friendly size.
The quotations, selected from interviews, magazine features and podcasts from around the world, show Ai Weiwei’s thoughts on humanity, mass migration and refugees.
According to his interview excerpts, the artist believes we have lost the capacity for compassion.
“The refugee crisis is not about refugees, rather, it is about us. Our prioritization of financial gain over people’s struggle for the necessities of life is the primary cause of much of this crisis. The West has all but abandoned its belief in humanity and support for the precious ideals contained in declarations on universal human rights, it has sacrificed these ideals for short-sighted cowardice and greed,” he once said.
Ai Weiwei understands how it feels to be completely destitute in a foreign land, with nothing but one’s humanity. In 1959, during the Cultural Revolution, he accompanied his father to a labor camp in the Gobi Desert. When he returned to Beijing with his parents in 1975, he was 19 and determined to fight against injustice. Not afraid to criticize the Chinese authorities, he became an outspoken artist-cum-activist. He is now considered one of the most iconic artists of our times. He was detained in 2011 at Beijing airport, remained in custody for 81 days and was subsequently placed under house arrest. His passport was taken away and returned in 2015. That same year, Amnesty International awarded Ai Weiwei the Ambassador of Conscience Award for his work in defense of human rights and he relocated to Berlin.
Each quote in this book pricks our conscience, makes us feel uncomfortable, and reminds us that our indifference and and lack of action toward other human beings is inhuman.
For example, in the book, the artist is quoted as saying: “Allowing borders to determine your thinking is incompatible with the modern era.”
A powerful statement that is one of many to be found in this thought-provoking read.


What We Are Reading Today: MH370: Mystery Solved by Larry Vance

Updated 24 May 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: MH370: Mystery Solved by Larry Vance

  • Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing in 2014
  • Australian Transport Safety Bureau believes the airliner most likely ran out of fuel

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014 is one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries. Malaysia said on Wednesday that the search for the aircraft would end next week, after more than four years. Fragments of the Boeing 777, which was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, were found washed up on islands off the African coast. 

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau believes the airliner most likely ran out of fuel and crashed after flying far off course. 

It believes all 239 passengers and crew on board were long dead inside a depressurized cabin and cockpit. “MH370: Mystery Solved,” written by Canadian air crash investigator Larry Vance, concludes that the pilot deliberately crashed the plane in an area where it would sink into unexplored depths of the Indian Ocean. Peter Foley, who coordinated the search for Malaysia, on Tuesday dismissed the book’s claim.