Fragments of Gestures: The Moving Images of Ai Weiwei

By Aija Laura Zivitere.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper examines the moving images of Ai Weiwei, paying special attention to his documentary “Fairytale Film” on the one hand, and his Beijing video projects on the other. Drawing on the works of Gilles Deleuze on cinema and Giorgio Agamben on gesture, it analyses the primacy of gesture in the works of Ai in general and in his cinematic works in particular. Using Agamben’s distinction between making (cinematic works), acting (performance) and being endured and supported (cinematic gestures), this paper explores the relationship between Ai’s moving images and gestures and specific characteristics of the images determined by this relationship.
This research into the cinematic practices of Ai Weiwei aims not only to elucidate one of the aspects fundamental to the creative process of the artist but also to clarify some issues of the contemporary debate on artists’ films, especially those raising the questions of the compatibility of the Deleuzian theory of cinematic images and Agamben’s concept of gesture. Special attention is paid to the discussion of Deleuze’s notions of the political cinema and the cinema of the body and Agamben’s view of cinema as essentially belonging to the realm of ethics and politics.

Keywords: Ai Weiwei, Artists’ Film, Gesture, Gilles Deleuze, Giorgio Agamben, Political Cinema

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.99-108. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 816.244KB).

Aija Laura Zivitere

Lecturer, Department of Culture and Design, Information Systems Management Institute, Riga, Latvia

Aija Laura Zivitere is a Researcher and Lecturer in Research Methods at the Information Systems Management Institute in Riga, Latvia. Currently she is working on her doctoral dissertation on Ai Weiwei. Since 2006 she has been involved in a research project about auteur cinema on the one hand, and cinema made by artists on the other. She previously studied music theory and history and has worked as a music producer, assistant film director and music and film critic.