The Chinese dissident artist/activist Ai Weiwei has recklessly posted an anti-vax video on his Instagram account. In the reposted media, Mr Ai promotes a group of old men dancing and playing instruments with the caption, “Me and my friends living off-grid after refusing the vaccine.” His caption underneath the video reads: “#RunForOurRights #treadmill In defence of freedom of the press and human rights.”
This decision should belong to individuals – Ai Weiwei
The artist stated in a recent interview, “For or against the vaccine should be individuals’ autonomous decision, made for themselves and according to their social interaction, so society does not have the right to make vaccines compulsory. I had vaccines myself, but I can completely identify myself with those who do not want to get vaccinated. If individuals are forced to be vaccinated through social pressure and public opinion, it will be a very dangerous social tendency.”
“Regardless of the type of society, individuals are entitled to accurate information, and then they can voluntarily collaborate with the government or not. This decision should belong to individuals.”
Followers on Instagram questioned whether “aiww was hacked by anti-vaxxers?” This was high up in the comments section. “The vaccine is how we get our lives back without sacrificing half of our community; that’s basic human rights, said another. Your art has always given a voice to vulnerable communities; what about the communities vulnerable to Covid 19?” says another. “This is not human rights; this is human responsibility!” someone else points out.
Austria, Italy, Greece, France, Germany, Croatia, Ecuador, Fiji, Oman, Turkey, the US, New Zealand, Philippines and Indonesia have introduced mandatory Covid-19 vaccines for all or parts of their populations.
Ai Weiwei, born 1957, is a global citizen, artist and thinker, moves between modes of production and investigation, subject to the direction and outcome of his research, whether into the Chinese earthquake of 2008 (for works such as Straight, 2008-12 and Remembering 2009) or the worldwide plight of refugees and displaced people (for Law of the Journey and his feature-length documentary, Human Flow, both 2017). From early iconoclastic positions regarding authority and history, which included Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn and a series of middle-finger salutes to sites of power, Study of Perspective (both 1995), Ai’s production expanded to encompass architecture, public art and performance. Beyond concerns of form or protest, Ai now measures our existence about economic, political, natural and social forces, uniting craftsmanship with conceptual creativity. Universal symbols of humanity and community, such as bicycles, flowers and trees, and the perennial borders and conflicts are given renewed potency through installations, sculptures, films and photographs. At the same time, Ai continues to speak out publicly on issues he believes necessary. As a result, he is one of the leading cultural figures of his generation and serves as an example for free expression in China and internationally.
Why do our heroes keep letting us down?