I saw the documentary film about the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, “Never Sorry” and it put me off the fence for good on whether or not to run for Palo Alto City Council. Ai Weiwei was imprisoned by his government most believe because he criticized the government’s role in the death of more than 5,000 schoolchildren in a 2009 earthquake in Sichuan. He claims that “tofu” construction — he means shoddy or subpar — in a government sponsored infrastructure was at fault for all the deaths. Part of his reaction was an art installation in Germany with 9,000 backpacks installed on the wall of a museum there.
He has an uncanny and unique ability to blend creativity and social activism. Although it would be extreme to compare China nationalist government either to our challenges nationally or locally, I definitely believe and have stated in various forums that maybe policy could learn from artists.
So look for me these next 7 days collecting signatures of registered Palo Alto voters trying to qualify for the November ballot. I need 25 to qualify but if I get 100 my $25 filing fee would be refunded.
I am thinking of producing some oblique posters referencing the film that state SO SO RRR.
edit to add, an hour later: a term I used earlier today at my other blog, “Plastic Alto” and heard in this movie “social sculpture” seems fitting here. Wikipedia has a promising article on the subject, and references Joseph Beuys. What do I mean if I speak of a political campaign as a social sculpture? Noting that if I end up with too many obscure terms and influences, I will have to publish my own dictionary or glossary as did Douglas Coupland. edit to add, Aug. 16: here is a link to video footage of Ai Weiwei supporters eating river crab. There is a pun on the words “river crab” and a word the Chinese government used for “prosperity” — the arts activists were commenting on the government’s Orwellian utterings. I made a vague reference to this event on a post on the Palo Alto Weekly, that was soon deleted. I claimed that “#@&^” meant “smoked mock duck”. Go figure.
In a related matter, the Weekly deleted four passages in the comment forum regarding 27 University.
I believe the reference was Genghis Khan and paternity.)