Monday, September 15, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Artist, activist Ai Weiwei played blackjack in AC while studying in NYC

Ai Weiwei is a gamblin' man.

Artist, activist Ai Weiwei played blackjack in AC while studying in NYC

Ai Weiwei is China´s most celebrated contemporary artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic. In April 2011, when Ai disappeared into police custody for three months, he quickly became China’s most famous missing person, having first risen to international prominence in 2008 after helping design Beijing’s iconic Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium and then publicly denouncing the Games as party propaganda. Since then, Ai Weiwei’s critiques of China’s repressive regime have ranged from playful photographs of his raised middle finger in front of Tiananmen Square to searing memorials of the more than 5,000 schoolchildren who died in shoddy government construction in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Against a backdrop of strict censorship, Ai has become a kind of Internet champion.  His frequent witty use of his blog and twitter, he is able to organize, inform, and inspire his followers, becoming an underground hero to millions of Chinese citizens. <br /><br />First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to the charismatic artist, as well as his family and others close to him, while working as a journalist in Beijing. In the years she filmed, government authorities shut down Ai’s blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention; while Time magazine named him a runner-up for 2011’s Person of the Year. This compelling documentary is the inside story of a passionate dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics. <br />
Ai Weiwei is China's most celebrated contemporary artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic. In April 2011, when Ai disappeared into police custody for three months, he quickly became China’s most famous missing person, having first risen to international prominence in 2008 after helping design Beijing’s iconic Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium and then publicly denouncing the Games as party propaganda. Since then, Ai Weiwei’s critiques of China’s repressive regime have ranged from playful photographs of his raised middle finger in front of Tiananmen Square to searing memorials of the more than 5,000 schoolchildren who died in shoddy government construction in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Against a backdrop of strict censorship, Ai has become a kind of Internet champion. His frequent witty use of his blog and twitter, he is able to organize, inform, and inspire his followers, becoming an underground hero to millions of Chinese citizens. First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to the charismatic artist, as well as his family and others close to him, while working as a journalist in Beijing. In the years she filmed, government authorities shut down Ai’s blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention; while Time magazine named him a runner-up for 2011’s Person of the Year. This compelling documentary is the inside story of a passionate dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics.

Artist and activist his Ai Weiwei is internationally renown for both his art and criticism of the Chinese government's human rights record was also a killer blackjack player, spending his weekend in Atlantic City when he was studying in the state. In a highly entertaining piece about artists' careers before they hit it big, Artinfo reveals how Weiwei paid for pizza and beer while in college:

While studying at New York’s Parsons School in the 1980s, the artist spent most of his weekends in Atlantic City, where he cultivated a reputation as a formidable blackjack player. The impression he left on the Jersey gambling community was lasting: During Ai’s 2011 detention by the Chinese government, the website blackjackchamp.com ran a story with the magnificent headline, “Arrested Chinese Blackjack Guru Ai WeiWei Also an Artist and Activist,” complete with testimony about his character from someone named "Snake Eyes."

I wonder what casinos he frequented. Unfortunately, the Black Jack Champ site doesn't elaborate on where Weiwei spent his days.

Weiwei was recenly the subject of an excellent documentary directed by Wynnewood native Alison Klayman.

H/T InLiquid

Molly Eichel Daily News Staff Writer
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