The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Locust Projects (a Knight Arts grantee) has come up with a neat idea for “art films & food,” together with another Knight grantee, O Cinema. Starting next week and then periodically through November, films about art (not arty films) will be coupled with a meal from Harry’s Pizzeria for the Locust Projects @ O series. The first one: Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry.
This is a great film to kick this series off, first screened here in Miami back during the Miami International Film Festival, also held at O Cinema. The Chinese artist is best known for his huge installations, such as "Sun Flowers" that covered the Tate Modern in 2010, and his various versions of "Forever Bicycles." And for his architectural forays, such as his collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron and the attention grabbing Beijing National Stadium, known the world over as the Bird’s Nest after the Beijing Olympics. And for his social activism under the authoritarian regime of his homeland.
The unapologetic Ai was trailed around by filmmaker Alison Klayman, who captured these various aspects of the artist’s life for two years. For instance, he would later come to despise his association with the Olympics and the stadium. He would be openly critical of the country’s response to the devastating Sichuan earthquake, especially about all the children who were killed. He’s funny and serious, and never silent.
Well, until the Chinese government finally had enough and arrested Ai on vague tax evasion charges in 2011, and for several months nothing was heard from him. After he was released, he has been uncharacteristically quiet – somewhat – clearly a measure of his “parole.” But as the title suggests, Never Sorry, it’s doubtful this larger-than-life man will ever stop provoking. In one interesting commentary about his cats (there is quite a bit about these cats in the film), whom he has taught to open doors, he muses that unlike humans, they don’t close them afterwards.
In October comes Wayne White’s Beauty is Embarrassing, about the cartoonist behind such things as Pee Wee’s Playhouse puppets and props. Then in November comes Portrait of Wally, a documentary about the great, ground-breaking Austrian artist Egon Schiele.
The Thursday-night Locust Projects @ O: Art Films & Food events cost $35, and RSVP is required to firstname.lastname@example.org or 305-576-8570. Subsequent screenings are regular price ($10.50).
Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry runs from Aug. 16-19 at O Cinema, 90 NW 29th St., Miami; 305-571-9970; www.o-cinema.org.