Foam is proud to launch the brand new and unique Foam Magazine, which was made in close collaboration with world-renowned Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei (1957, Beijing). Weiwei is guest editor for this issue that is entirely dedicated to the theme ‘Freedom of Expression under Surveillance’. Ai Weiwei himself is the central point of the magazine, as an artist under constant surveillance by the Chinese government. The issue contains images he made while documenting his life by using Instagram and webcams, but also pays attention to Ai Weiwei’s constant endeavour to keep a sharp eye on the ones surveilling him.
As an outspoken critic of the political system in China artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei was placed under house arrest, detained, his passport was seized. He was watched continually by secret agents and cameras, while his telephone and computer were tapped or monitored. Since 2011 Ai Weiwei has been under constant surveillance by the Chinese authorities. No wonder, then, that the theme chosen for this special issue is Freedom of Expression under Surveillance’. What means of expression are still available to you as an artist, as a human being, if your freedom of movement is severely curtailed? For Ai Weiwei, the answer lay in the use of photography and video to record his life, and in the optimal deployment of the Internet and social media. This, and his continuing endeavour to fight for freedom of speech and artistic expression, was an important reason for Foam to ask Ai Weiwei as a guest editor for Foam Magazine.
Freedom of Expression under Surveillance
Containing an interview with, and quotes by the artist, Foam Magazine #43 is divided into four parts: Sousveillance, Self Surveillance, Urban Surveillance and Art and Surveillance. It reports on the way the artist worked the last few years. Instagram and Twitter became the means by which Ai Weiwei shared virtually every aspect of his life with a steadily growing multitude of followers all over the world. Part of the issue shows a selection of the endless stream of images posted on Instagram by Ai Weiwei. In another part, Weiwei shares stills from the Weiweicam he directed at himself 24/7. Foam Magazine #43 documents crucial and highly eventful period in the life of one of the most important artists of our age.
About Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei is an influential Chinese contemporary artist and activist. As a political activist, he has been openly criticizing the Chinese Government's stance on democracy and human rights. In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing Capital International Airport, he was held for 81 days without any official charges being filed. Recently, he had his passport returned to him and was given the opportunity to travel abroad. Among art works by Ai Weiwei are Fairytale (2007), produced for Documenta 12, and Sunflower Seeds, an installation in London’s Tate Modern in 2010. A major solo exhibition of his work is currently on show at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
About Foam Magazine
Foam Magazine is an international photography magazine published three times a year around a specific theme. The magazine serves as a platform for all kinds of photography: from documentary to fashion and contemporary to historic, featuring both world-renowned image makers and relatively unknown emerging talent. Each 288-page issue contains multiple portfolios printed on carefully considered different kinds of paper. Interviews and opinions by experts in the field of photography are combined with surprising and distinctive editorial choices. Foam Magazine has been awarded several prizes for both its high-grade graphic design and the quality of its content. Foam Magazine is published by Frame Publishers.