Humanity

Ai Weiwei, edited by Larry Warsh. Princeton Univ, $12.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-691-18152-3
Art collector Warsh assembles a collection of impassioned quotations from Chinese artist and activist Ai that urge the developed world to assume a more charitable response to the global refugee crisis, the largest displacement of people since WWII. Ai takes particular aim at the United States, which, since 2013, has taken in a total of 2,500 Syrian refugees, the same number that arrived in Greece every day at the height of the crisis. On the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, he writes, “This solution has never worked and it testifies to the notion that we have become less courageous.” Gleaned from news articles and interviews, these brief passages are informed by Ai’s time spent interviewing and filming refugees in over 40 refugee camps across 23 countries. Some of Ai’s witticisms have the airy, abstract tone of an aphorism: “History teaches us that at the beginning of the greatest tragedies was ignorance.” His recollections of time among refugees are as arresting as they are brief: “I saw thousands come daily, children, babies, pregnant women, old ladies, a young boy with one arm. They come with nothing, barefoot, in such cold, and they have to walk across the rocky beach.” This is not an analysis of the refugee crisis, but rather an anecdote-heavy collection of field notes from the front lines. The result is a powerful and timely account of the refugee crisis that posits no easy solutions. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 06/18/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 168 pages - 978-1-4008-9034-7
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