How Ai Weiwei Marries Advocacy and Art at Home and Abroad


The following is from Zodiac: A Graphic Memoir by Ai Weiwei with Elettra Stamboulis, illustrated by Gianluca Constantini.

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From Zodiac: A Graphic Memoir by Ai Weiwei with Elettra Stamboulis, illustrated by Gianluca Constantini. Copyright © 2024. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Ai Weiwei, Elettra Stamboulis and Gianluca Costantini
Ai Weiwei, Elettra Stamboulis and Gianluca Costantini

Ai Weiwei leads a diverse and prolific practice that encompasses sculptural installation, filmmaking, photography, ceramics, painting, writing, and social media. Born in Beijing, China, in 1957, he is a conceptual artist who fuses traditional craftsmanship and his Chinese heritage, moving freely between a variety of formal languages to reflect on contemporary geopolitical and sociopolitical conditions. Ai Weiwei’s work and life regularly interact and inform one another, often extending to his activism and advocacy for international human rights.

Elettra Stamboulis was born in 1969 in Bologna, Italy. She is a curator and comic writer based in Ravenna, Italy. Her graphic novels include The Tamer of Istanbul (Comma 22, 2008); Officina del macello (Edizioni del Vento, 2008; reprinted by Eris Edizioni, 2014); A cena con Gramsci (Becco giallo, 2012); Arrivederci Berlinguer (Becco giallo, 2013); Pertini tra le nuvole (Becco Giallo, 2014); and Diario segreto di Pasolini (Becco Giallo 2015), all with drawings by Gianluca Costantini. She has also written many short stories translated into English, French, Turkish, and Greek, in particular for Le Monde Diplomatique, Babel, and Leman.

Gianluca Costantini is an Italian cartoonist, comic journalist, and activist. He has contributed to numerous publications and is the author of several graphic novels. He is well known for his drawing related to human rights campaigns all over the world. He collaborates with organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, ActionAid, and SOS Méditerranée. In 2019, he received the Art and Human Rights Award from Amnesty International.



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