Tactical Action for Ai Weiwei at Harvard University
On April 8th, 2011, a planned event at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design (GSD) in Cambridge, Massachusetts was briefly interrupted by a tactical action to protest the recent detention of the acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei by Chinese authorities.
The action, documented in this eight and half minute video, began shortly after the opening talk (3:50 mins into the video) with a student running to place a chair and a Chinese coat (designed by another artist who worked with Ai Weiwei in Beijing) on the stage to represent where Ai Weiwei would've sat during the talk. The action continued to play out during the course of the 2-hour event with the removal (at 5:20 mins) and reappearence of another coat (at 6:20 mins) on stage, as the hidden video camera among the audience dramatically documents.
The discussion was part of the exhibit "The Divine Comedy" (http://thedivinecomedy.org), showcasing the work of three artist/architects Ai Weiwei, Olafur Eliasson and Tomas Saraceno. Eliasson and Saraceno were in attendance for the event moderated by Sanford Kwinter, the curator of the exhibit at the GSD.
Description of action by a member of the audience: "The mood is serious. Audience applauded when third chair was placed on stage. Tomas and Olafur and the moderator, Sanford Kwinter, all acknowledged the absense of Ai Weiwei. Olafur speaks about ideas of unpredictability, the desire (of insurers ie) to negate risk by making the world predictable but it isn't. At one point a student approaches the stage and removes the coat, another student returns the coat to the stage later in the discussion and the conversation pauses deferntially. Lecture ends with applause and thanks for Ai 'in effigy.'"
Read more about this action and Ai Weiwei's detention here:
This video and the accompanying text originally appeared at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6kDKLREfMU/
For the record, Open Media Boston supports this action and the movement to free Ai Weiwei.