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Ai Weiwei assumes Einstein Professorship

Ai Weiwei assumes Einstein Professorship

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will begin his teaching activities as Einstein Visiting Professor at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) in the winter semester of 2015-16. An inaugural event will take place on 1st November 2015, at 5:00 p.m. At the event, titled “(teaching) ART,” Prof. Ai Weiwei will speak with other lecturers from UdK Berlin about art and the art of teaching art.

 “We at Berlin University of the Arts are very happy to welcome Ai Weiwei to our institution this semester. There were good reasons to invite him to UdK Berlin several years ago. Now, we finally had the chance to do so, and from our first conversations, I have high expectations for his work with our students,” said Prof. Martin Rennert, president of the UdK Berlin, at today's press conference.

Prof. Dr. med. Dres. h. c. Günter Stock, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Einstein Foundation Berlin, emphasized the significance of Ai Weiwei’s appointment as Einstein Visiting Professor, for Berlin as a center of art and research and also for the Einstein Foundation Berlin itself. “With this Einstein Visiting Professorship, we were able to attract an exceptional artist to our city. Ai Weiwei’s artistic work – as a sculptor, performance artist, filmmaker, and architect – creates new potential and perspectives that will expand our scope in both theory and practice. With this appointment, we are enabling our students to question and broaden their own artistic viewpoints through their involvement with Ai Weiwei and his work.“

The initiative to appoint Ai Weiwei as lecturer started in December 2010. In April 2011, the artist was detained by the Chinese government. Just a few days later, the Einstein Foundation Berlin approved the UdK’s application to establish a visiting professorship for Ai Weiwei. 

After his travel restrictions were lifted at the end of July 2015, Ai Weiwei contacted the Berlin University of the Arts. In August 2015, he was able to have his first personal conversations with the University’s president Prof. Martin Rennert. Due to extraordinary efforts of all the people and institutions involved, the Einstein Visiting Professorship, which will last for three years, could begin as early as this winter semester.

Students from all faculties of the Berlin University of the Arts were able to apply for Ai Weiwei’s class. More than 100 applications were submitted, mainly by Fine Arts and Design students. As of now, Prof. Ai’s master class, set to begin in November, consists of 12 students: “When interviewing the students I realized that they are all very serious and well trained. They are also willing to do more and get involved in the teaching. For me, teaching is learning too.”

At the inaugural event on 1st November 2015, Prof. Ai will discuss questions of art and the teaching of art with the following colleagues from UdK Berlin on stage: Prof. Anna Anders, video artist; Prof. Dr. Thomas Düllo, cultural studies; Prof. Nik Haffner, contemporary dance and choreography; and Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Lüdeking, art historian.

Tickets available to the public ran out within two days. The event will be broadcasted via live video stream on www.livestream.udk-berlin.de.

Foto: Matthias Heyde/UdK