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Artistic Responses inside Political Systems

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Ai Weiwei and the Art in China
Contemporary art has taken the unwritten vow of showing the worst of society. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the artistic manifestations that show such problems have to be gritty or hard to watch. On the contrary, art can take even the smallest object and convert it into a work of protest. This is the case with the highly controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei who criticized the conditions of Chinese terrible labor conditions in his work “Sunflower Seeds”. Moreover, although the problem seems small in the Western’s eyes, the impressive growth of China’s economy has not come with a low price and Ai Weiwei tries to show it through his work.
Before China’s president Deng Xiaoping reformed the country’s economy in the late 1970s, the country was impoverished and economically depressed. However, thanks to those reforms, the country quickly became one of the greatest contributors to the world market. Thus, as a result of this unprecedented growth, a gray economy based on forced labor was created perpetuated through ineffective policies, corruption and lack of legal enforcement (Lepillez 1). For instance, one of the most visible and important instances of labor exploitation occurred in the Foxconn Suicides. In 2010, eighteen workers from the Foxconn Technology Group, an electronics manufacturer that assembled iPhone, iPad, and Xbox 360 related products attempted to commit suicid…

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