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Skirball Cultural Center

Ai Weiwei—1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

In Conversation with Theaster Gates

Public Programs | Words and Ideas

Credits (left to right): Ai Weiwei, courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio; 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows book cover, courtesy of the publisher; Theaster Gates, photo by Sara Pooley.

This is a past program

This program took place on
Wednesday, November 3, 2021

About the Program

Writers Bloc Presents® and the Skirball invite you to a pre-recorded conversation with internationally acclaimed artist and Trace creator, Ai Weiwei, as he discusses his highly anticipated memoir, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows. During this exclusive program, the only virtual event planned in promotion of the book, Ai will speak with renowned social practice artist and University of Chicago professor Theaster Gates.

Targeted by Chinese authorities for his political activism, Ai faced months of secret detention without charge in 2011. “During those long weeks, I thought often of my father, a poet who had been exiled during Mao Zedong’s Anti-Rightist Campaign,” Ai says. “I realized how incomplete my understanding of him was and how much I regretted the unbridgeable gap between us.”

Not wanting his son to suffer the same regret, Ai set out to write what he knew of his father and to share openly about his own life from artistic unknown to art world superstar. At once intimate and ambitious, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows explores Ai’s own family history and offers a deep understanding of the myriad forces that have shaped modern China. The result is an expansive new work that serves as a timely reminder of the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.

“An instant classic in the literature of China’s rise, a protest against the destruction of memory, and a glorious testament to the power of free expression.”—Evan Osnos, author

Program Partners

This program is co-hosted by:
Arts & Letters Live at the Dallas Museum of Art
University Club of Chicago

Mother holding young daughter dancing and smiling outside during a festival

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