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Chinese-American Artists Celebrate Early Years of Ai Wei Wei

A new performance project focuses on the Chinese artist's lesser-known, early life, including his formative years in New York City.
1986, photo from Ai Wei Wei's own series, the \"New York Photos\".
1986, photo from Ai Wei Wei's own series, the "New York Photos".

This month, the Brooklyn Art Museum presents "AI WEI WEI: THE SEED," a multi-disciplinary performance focusing on the early life of Ai Wei Wei, one of China’s most influential and famous modern-day artists.

Combining spoken word, movement, video, and live sound, the project tells the story of Ai Wei Wei’s early life, including his lesser-known, formative years in New York City where he befriended poet Allen Ginsberg. That experience continued to influence his later works, including a series of “New York Photographs” Wei Wei took between 1983-1993.

“We've used Ai Wei Wei's words as a launch pad to create musical phrases and choreography," said lead artist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai. "We all come from different points of view politically, personally, and artistically, but are all Chinese American artists."

The performance weaves together personal experiences from each featured artist with moments from Ai Wei Wei’s early years, celebrating the spirit, organizers say, of one of China's most prolific and provocative artists.

"I was excited to explore these issues around diaspora, culture, New York, and what it means to speak out,” said Tsai.

The live performance is a collaborative effort between Chinese-American artists Jessica Chen, Jason Kao Hwang, Adriel Luis, and Kit Yan, and takes place on Thursday, July 24th. For tickets and information, visit here.

1986, photo from Ai Wei Wei's own series, the "New York Photos".Ai Wei Wei