I came to Ai Weiwei very late.I didn’t know he had been detained for eighty-one days because he was critical of the current Chinese Communist party. Nor did I know he helped design the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the 2008 Olympics. In other words, I knew nothing. His public art exhibition, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, made me curious about him. I kept passing the cage-like metallic structure that’s been installed in the middle of the Washington Square monument. A friend suggested, actually dragged me to Human Flow the last day of its showing at the Angelica. It’s a long, heart breaking documentary by Ai Weiwei about refugees. Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian diplomat, explained that being a refugee deprives an individual of respect. He or she is suspect, not trusted.
Weiwei filmed in 28 countries. The photography, much of it from drones, is wonderful. Ai Weiwei comes across as a gentle, simpatico person. He reminds me of another gentle, simpatico person, Dr. Willie Parker, who toils in the field of legal abortion in several southern states. Weiwei lives in Berlin. He longs to go back to China to see his mom. He is a refugee albeit a celebrated artist. In one scene he and a refugee in a camp playfully exchange passports. Weiwei gets the refugee’s tent and the refugee gets Weiwei’s Berlin apartment. In your dreams.
Graphic Lessons: Recent thirty-five-year-old widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man in the school kitchen, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine-year-old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.
Graphic Lessons: Nine-year-old Dana is the only witness who overhears three people fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore? She tells Millie.
Graphic Lessons: Something’s eating at NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case? It doesn’t matter because he’s relentless.