Toronto Trip for October 16th

Toronto Trip

We will be watching Ai Wei Wei, checking out his art, and seeing some photographs.

Let’s look at the film trailer first.

When viewing the film, think about the filming techniques and points of view that were used. What did you like about them? What would have made them better?

What parts of the film did you really enjoy? Which parts did you not enjoy and why?

Ai Wei Wei will make you think about certain ideas and themes. Examine these questions before watching the film.

Would you be willing to go to jail for something you

believe in? Explain.

Why is it important to stand up for what you believe in

like many people did in the film? What are some of the

consequences of standing up for your beliefs?

What mediums does Ai Weiwei use throughout the film

to document his reality?

What limitations or restrictions has the Chinese

government put on Ai Weiwei in the present day? How

has this changed from the film, and how does it affect

Weiwei as an artist and an activist?

In the film, Ai Weiwei says, “I think there is a

responsibility for any artist to protect freedom of

expression.” Do you agree with this?


If you mean by response mean reaction I would very much hope that the students feel uncomfortable when they witness what prize innocent people pay by political failure.

The events in Gaza, Syria, Afghanistan and other conflict torn coutries may be perceived as being far away and clouded behind complex explanations. But in reality it is not. 

That type of complex explanations/reasoning is in a way false in my meaning. Not that the underlying tension and fault lines are not there and that there can and usually are complex reasons why there is a conflict/crisis.

By false I mean that complicated political and social issues often works as a kind of mental smokescreen that we as individuals use as a way out of having to feel, or do much about it – on any level. When I started out working for the newspaper Dagens Nyheter it was approximately the same time as the second Intifadah (Rebellion/Uprising) started agaist Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Palestine. The area became very much a part of my work as a photojournalist. In those days, 13 years ago I was frequently asked why I went to the area and took the risks I had to take. Tragically, today that question is very much easier to answer. After the terror-attacks on 9/11 people realize how important a faraway and complicated crisis/war is, and how quickly events on the other side of the world can affect people in New York, Toronto or Stockholm.

I once read the Canadian Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire ‘s book in the genocide in Rwanda and I would like to end my answer to you with a quote from him:

“How do we pick and choose where to get involved? Canada and other peacekeeping nations have become accustomed to acting if, and only if, international public opinion will support them – a dangerous path that leads to a moral relativism in which a country risks losing sight of the difference between good and evil, a concept that some players on the international stage view as outmoded. Some governments regard the use of force itself as the greatest evil. Others define “good” as the pursuit of human rights and will opt to employ force when human rights are violated. As the nineties drew to a close and the new millennium dawned with no sign of an end to these ugly little wars, it was as if each troubling conflict we were faced with had to pass the test of whether we could “care” about it or “identify” with the victims before we’d get involved.” 


What I try to do, realizing reportage photos, is to document the condition of people who live in conflict scenarios or in really difficult circumstances in which Human Rights aren’t respected.  My aim is to focus world’s attention on themes who desperately need it. With my photographs I want to move consciences , I want to induce people to reflect on world’s different realities. Covering the Syrian War – as others wars – I realized one time more that  people that suffer the most dramatic effects of the conflicts are civilians, people like you, like us…


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