Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly is a documentary about acclaimed and world renowned Chinese activist Ai Weiwei’s latest exhibition, Yours Truly, following his work and the impact it has, even when most of the preparation for Yours Truly is done while Weiwei is under house arrest. The documentary guides its audience, not only through Ai Weiwei’s latest work, but also giving the audience a more detailed explanation of the reasoning behind Yours Truly, what it means on a wider scale and how the artist hopes that his work will connect with his audience.
However, for those who are completely unfamiliar with Ai Weiwei, the film also gives the audience a short summary of his life to get them up to speed, understand his motivations as an artist and to tell the audience just how important his activism is and why he is so well respected.
Ai Weiwei’s latest idea revolves around the people all over the world who have been imprisoned simply for their political beliefs and have expressed themselves peacefully in order to tell the world about what their governments have done.
Once again going back to Alcatraz in order to display his work after 2014’s exhibition @Large, many portraits of political activists are replicated using Lego, a material that is recognisable to the majority of people throughout the world. However, more than just being a display of faces and names with no context, each of the exhibition’s visitors are encouraged to write to the people in the portraits and the postcards they use are then mailed to the activists directly as a symbol of encouragement and solidarity.
Thankfully, Ai Weiwei’s work pays off and some of the postcards even reach the people some of the activists and that’s where the documentary really shows the human side of the struggles that the people behind the portraits face. Giving the chance to show the real people and to talk to them, Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly goes to places it probably never expected to go, helping to further cement Ai Weiwei’s message of a universal fight against those who wish to supress their voices.
The documentary also uses snippets of social media to show that it can be used as a force for good and that many of the activists have used it as a platform to spread their own messages. Even Ai Weiwei himself is shown to use it as a way to spread the word about the things that matter to him.
Whether you’re a fan of Ai Weiwei’s work or you are completely unaware of him, Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly shows not only the importance of activism and freedom of speech but also highlights that wherever you are in the world, somebody will be fighting for your rights and you may not even realise it.
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