A NAME IS THE 1st & FINAL MARKER OF INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS: Ai Weiwei

In 2008 the Sichuan Earthquake occurred in China.

  • 90,000 killed
  • 5,196 dead children

The children were attending schools that had been carelessly constructed in China’s boom expansion. Part of the problem – rebar snapped during the quake causing the schools walls to collapse concrete onto the children.

In an act of outrage at the Chinese government’s (mis)treatment of the destruction, Ai launched a social media campaign to begin a citizen’s investigation into the disaster and to create a full list of the names of the missing / dead.

As well Ai and his crew went onsite to the wreckage of the schools and collected the rebar. His work seen here, “Straight”, is the result.

The crooked metal was straightened out and the 38 tons laid intimately on top each other to construct a rising and falling landscape of metal.

“Straight”  is not the only work to come out of the wreckage of the earthquake.

“Remembering” and “Snake Ceiling” are installations made from children’s backpacks also collected at site of the earthquake.

“Remembrance” is an audio recording of people from around the world reading the names of the children.

“Names of the Student Earthquake Victims Found by the Citizen Investigation”, also seen here, is a document turned into an installation of the compiled list of all the names of the children.

AGO engages the community in an act of remembering.

This Sunday, August 18 AGO is inviting the community of Toronto to participate in an act of remembering the lost children of the Sichuan Earthquake. From noon to 5 pm at the AGO the names of the 5000+ children will be read out loud in an collaborative performance by those who attend.

More information and to register visit the AGO’s website here.



Images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.