Ai Wei Wei and His Snake

Every great story seems to begin with a snake.

-Nicolas Cage

Took a nice long morning walk to Park Slope for breakfast with the anticipation of going to the Brooklyn Museum of Art this afternoon. There was a specific artist that I wanted to see there but no great endeavor would be achieved today unless it started off with some tea and some doodling. Went to one of my favorite brunch nooks for some chow and some tea at Café Dada and got to work on my doodle, as shown here…

A woman, a flower, and a snake
A woman, a flower, and a snake

If you look closely, there is a snake wrapping around a flower and the flower is being brought to the woman’s face. I haven’t been drawing detailed faces these days. Without intending to copy his idea, I noticed Jean-Paul Gaultier employed a similar technique for his Haut Couture models. Here’s what I’m talking about if you click here from the Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibit on his work last season.

I can not really say why I have been drawing the snake so much lately. There were no Biblical implications here. Ironically, I would see a very powerful sculpture of a snake on the ceiling of the exhibit I would see today, Ai Wei Wei: According to What? at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Here it is…

Ai Wei Wei's Snake Sculpture, made of backpacks
Ai Wei Wei’s Snake Sculpture, made of backpacks

While I could probably write for hours about this artist, this particular sculpture stuck a cord with me. The Snake is made up of thousands of backpacks. These backpacks represent each life that was taken during the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. After multiple schools fell apart due to, what Ai Wei Wei claims, was shoddy “tofu” construction due to the inattention of the Chinese government, many backpacks of students were strewn around the rubble. It really affected me to see this physical representation of each life of the children and teachers who perished slithering on the wall above me (hmm, maybe that’s why I kept drawing snakes this week).

In an adjacent room, there is a documentary of the devastation of the Sichuan Earthquake in 2008, as well as a documentary about the artist’s efforts to uncover the government’s involvement in the collapse of the schools during the earthquake (click HERE to see the trailer). Ai Wei Wei and many of his followers decided to find out why so many school buildings collapsed so easily and decided to try to get a list of names of who perished from this horrific event since the Chinese government did not. Here is the list of names Ai Wei Wei and his supporters gathered on the entire wall and the rebar used to “support” the schools which collapsed during the earthquake.

7th Ave and Ai Wei Wei 062

Rebar collected from the schools that collapsed, straightened to display their frailty
Rebar collected from the schools that collapsed, straightened to display their fragility.

The Chinese government was not very receptive to Ai Wei Wei’s agenda so they have done everything from assaulting him to arresting him with, what appears to be, phony charges. Currently, he is unable to leave China because they have not returned his passport to him. To find out more about the artist, go to the official Free Ai Wei Wei website: and go check out his exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Thanks for visiting!

Doodle with a purpose!

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