Ai Weiwei: To See Is To Believe

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Hans-Ulrich Obrist is an art curator, critic and historian of art. He is co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery, London.

college minority graduate

The accompanying photo is taken from an Instagram message sent to me by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. I asked him, like I’ve asked many other artists, simply to write something in his or her own handwriting –- a disappearing art in the digital age.

The project started when I read an article by Umberto Eco who lamented the disappearance of handwriting among kids. When I read that over breakfast I thought that is totally true, everything happens on a computer now. I thought it would be interesting to find ways to re-introduce handwriting to the digital age. A few days later I was in the studio of Ryan Trecartin in Los Angeles with writer Kevin Mc Garry when Ryan said you should join Instagram. All of a sudden he took my iPhone and downloaded the app onto the phone. He took a photo of me with his phone and put it on his Instagram account. I didn’t know what to do with my account. I came back to Europe, it was December, and went on Christmas vacation with the great artists and poets Etel Adnan and Simone Fattal at the sea in France. We started speaking about handwriting and I thought for the first time I could post sentences. I meet great artists, writers, scientists and architects and I saw I could post their writings. A sort of visual tweet put on Instagram and then also on Twitter. It became a ritual. I believe in rituals. Now every day I post at least one thing on Instagram. For me, it is kind of a movement of some sort.

As part of this movement, from time to time, The WorldPost will post these ritual celebrations of the beauty of handwriting.