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Ai Weiwei Speaks: with Hans Ulrich Obrist

3.6  ·  Rating details ·  216 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Paperback, 128 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Penguin UK (first published January 1st 2011)
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Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
felt guilty about walking past st marks bookstore, so i picked this up as a cheap introduction to hans ulrich obrist. i've thought about grabbing one of his other collections, but thought this an easy start. overall i was a bit underwhelmed. fits nicely on the heels of all the "too much curating" conversation. he's a curator who began as an interviewer. as such, i'd expect more of an interrogator and a questioner. this is more of the leonard lopate, "pick ten questions and ask them and barely se ...more
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Very disappointing. Ai Wewei is such an interesting cultural figure, but these interviews are so lightweight that they only touch on the surfaces of what he's done as opposed to providing deeper insights.
Jan 28, 2016 rated it liked it
There is so much more that Ai Weiwei is trying to say than is in this book.
Dec 04, 2011 rated it liked it
We met in one of my most favorite places in Europe: The Museum Shop at TATE Modern, London. We spend some time together, intensive sessions, once in a local pub, over beer and fish&chips, then during our train ride back to the airport. The second time we met, he had home advantage. It was a Chinese coffee shop in Shanghai; now definitely one of my favorite places in Asia.

‘Seeker’, with its mysterious and dead-on name near Ferguson Lane, has the special charm of an old Scottish house with wor
May 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
I purchased this book after watching Ai Weiwei's (AWW) 2012 documentary "Never Sorry" (twice) on Netflix. I'm an admirer of AWW and his views on art, politics, and freedom of expression. However, while this book -- or rather an extended set of transcribed interviews with Hans Ulrich Obrist (HUO) -- had a few moments where AWW had the opportunity to let his deeper thoughts flow, they were few and far between.

As other comments have noted, there are several instances of bizarre repetition. For exa
Cédric Raskin
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enkele interviews met Ai Weiwei, tussen 2006 en 2010. Dus éet voor zijn wereldwijde doorbraak met zijn installatie zonnebloempitten in de Turbine Hall van het Londense Tate Modern.

Vaak wordt Ai Weiwei enkel opgevoerd als politieke dissident/activist. In zijn interviews focust Hans Ulrich Obrist zich echter vooral op Weiwei's andere creatieve activiteiten. Zo was hij één van de allereerste grote bloggers - wat hij een 'sociale sculptuur' noemt, in de traditie van Joseph Beuys. Dat bloggen blijft
Dani St Clair
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: china
Ai Weiwei Speaks is an interesting look into Ai Weiwei's life, influences and projects. However, as it is a collation of interviews done over the course of several years, much content is repeated from interview to interview. I was fine with this when Ai was talking about his blog, or his life against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, but less tolerant when Obrist kept rehashing other matters, such as Ai's forays into architecture.

In fact, Obrist's interviewing skills were less than
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Immediately read this book after visiting the According To What exhibit. There is no other book I have read which has more dog ears than this one so it's a challenge to choose one summarizing quote.Ai WeiWei is more than an artist; he makes one think. Hopefully more will act. I have discovered just the tip of the iceberg but it has made me think of the people of China, Syria, Egypt and all other silenced, oppressed places on the planet.

"We are living in an era in which nothing is clear, and a so
Caterina Pierre
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it

This small collection of interviews between Ai Weiwei and Hans Ulrich Obrist is a worthy read for anyone interested in contemporary art. I think the most interesting and informative interview was the fourth one in the book, called "The Retrospective." I learned the most about Ai Weiwei and his process in this interview. My only complaints are: (1) the book needs to be updated; the interviews seemed old, and (2) some of the interview questions are repetitive. But it is a great primary source tex
Will Buckingham
Aug 25, 2015 rated it liked it
"What turns you off?" Hans Ulrich Obrist asks Ai Weiwei. "Repetition," Ai responds.

A determination not to repeat himself is one of the things that makes Ai Weiwei such an interesting artist. It is unfortunate, then, that constant repetition makes this slim volume far less interesting than it should be.

These collected interviews are certainly interesting in parts, but as a whole this collection is somewhat insubstantial, skimming repeatedly over the same ground.

Worth reading, although it left me
Aug 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013, arts
If I were to read it for the first time again, I would read each of the interviews on a separate day, like a 5-day marathon. The interviews cover some of the same ground, which is not really a problem, because the discussions are usually different. But since it's such a slim volume, I read it in one sitting, and got a little bit bored when I read what is essentially the same sentence a few times within the space of an hour. But the only problem with that is my method of reading, not the actual i ...more
Callum McAllister
Sep 14, 2016 rated it liked it
There's nothing more dissatisfying than a bad or even mediocre interviewer. Luckily, Obrist was clearly born to interview. Wide-ranging immersive discussion about Ai Weiwei's work, politics and culture that anyone can read in a single sitting, and get a better understanding of his art and of Chinese and modern art in general.
Jovanna Venegas
Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Really small book that you could read in a day, it includes several interviews with artist/architect/writer Ai Weiwei. It mainly focuses on his architectural projects but it includes a lot on his thoughts on the current political and social situation in China. Highly recommend to those who don't know much about his work it can work as a small introduction.
Jun 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Brief introduction of Ai Weiwei's experience and thoughts. I'm intrigued to read more about him. Expected to see more witty questions from Obrist but it turned out to be alright. There are some repetitions which I don't mind much.
Patrick B.
Oct 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
Meh. Kinda of boring interview questions, and the responses don't translate well. I don't know if its Ai Weiwei's bad English or simply a poor translation. He sounds like a super interesting guy, but there's probably better sources out there from which to learn about him.
Alex Maclachlan
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Slow to start but became more interesting as I read on, either way, it's impossible to encapsulate everything that is the wonderful Ai Weiwei in the few eleventy or so pages of this Penguin Special.
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, art
Very Interesting read. Loved it!
Aug 18, 2012 rated it liked it
El personaje da mucho más de si. Falta chicha.
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent series of interviews with master interviewer Hans Ulrich Obrist - the more you read about this man, the more you wonder!
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Aug 15, 2011
Jacob Schindler
rated it it was ok
May 06, 2014
Jon Sullivan
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Oct 26, 2013
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Jun 25, 2016
Adam Zivanic
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Nov 14, 2015
Adam Lerner
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May 31, 2012
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Dec 10, 2012
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Feb 08, 2012
Wan Ting
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Jan 15, 2012
Sue Dale
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Mar 04, 2016
Susan Puska
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Dec 18, 2012
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Ai Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist, active in blogging, sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticism.

Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics.

As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Go
More about Ai Weiwei...