The artist and activist returns to How To Academy to reveal an insider’s perspective on the militarised Wuhan lockdown and the wider implications of the pandemic for global human rights.
On 1st December 2019, the first patient with COVID-19 symptoms was identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Officials repeatedly denied that human-to-human contact was possible, concealed the number of diagnosed patients, and punished medical staff for disclosing information about the epidemic. In January the city was placed under a brutally efficient lockdown to control the virus – with field hospitals erected in a matter of days and residents sealed in their homes.
China has assumed the status of superpower on the global stage, yet it remains poorly understood by other nations. For dissident artist and activist Ai Weiwei, the lockdown of Wuhan is a powerful lens through which to understand Chinese crisis management and the country’s social control machine – through surveillance, ideological brainwashing, and brute determination to control every aspect of society. His new documentary Coronation takes us inside the locked down city, using footage captured by ordinary citizens living in Wuhan – from couriers to communist party cadres, emergency workers to patients infected by COVID.
In this livestream event introduced by Chris Buckley, a NYT reporter who experienced the Wuhan lockdown first-hand, Ai Weiwei will be joined by Rana Mitter, Oxford historian of modern China, and Sophie Richardson, China Director of Human Rights Watch, to explore the themes of Coronation and reflect on the difficulties we face as individuals and countries in the context of globalisation.
Ultimately, the result is a society lacking trust, transparency, and respect for humanity. Despite the impressive scale and speed of the Wuhan lockdown, we face a more existential question: can civilization survive without humanity? Can nations rely on one another without transparency or trust?
All tickets for this event include both access to the livestream event and rental of Ai Weiwei’s new film Coronation, which will be sent to you to watch in advance of the livestream.
All tickets include a £1 donation to Human Rights Watch.
This event is supported by: