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Highlights from the Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship with Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is one of the most influential artists of our time. He is equally admired for his fearless activism on behalf of human rights, freedom of expression, and the plight of regular people, whether earthquake victims in China or refugees in the Mediterranean. Consistent in his art and activism alike is a critique of the dehumanizing effects of systems, and an insistence on the moral necessity for individuals to speak out.  “Citizens,” Ai Weiwei writes, “should bear the responsibility to act.”

For his constant and steadfast championing of human rights, he was celebrated with the Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship in Toronto on September 27, 2017.

Excerpt from The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson’s remarks:

This second Global Citizenship Prize is being awarded to Ai Weiwei, who is the best-known artist on the planet today. His work has reverberated across the world and has made truly a sphere that knows no barriers between East and West. We are a round, spinning earth because of Ai Weiwei and his actions. The pervasiveness of his courage could be seen in the dust that rose from the 100 million sunflower seeds in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Gallery as people walked over them. The atmosphere of that courage emanates across continents, across divides, and across our consciousness now in the digital world.

Being surrounded metaphorically by the dust of those wonderful sunflower seeds is the way in which we can feel enclosed in the acts of civic courage for which he is known. It seems the Western world has lost this. Or, at the very best, there has been a decline in courage, which is so noticeable among our political class, our intellectual elite, and our young. We are failing and we have failed. We are making ourselves known by the feeling of the loss of courage, which is extending all across the West…. Read the full remarks here

Photo Gallery:

Photos by Alyssa K. Faoro, Liz Beddall and Luis Mora. More photos can be found in our Facebook gallery.

Notable Tweets:

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More coverage:

Six things we learned from Ai Weiwei’s rare appearance in Toronto | Toronto Life

A delicate balance | Globe and Mail

Ai Weiwei on refugees, empathy and the ‘miracle’ of the internet |  CBC

Ai Weiwei praises Canada for having a ‘very open attitude’ towards refugees | CTV News

L’artiste chinois Ai Weiwei loue le role du Canada dans l’accueil des réfugiés | Radio Canada

‘Human crisis’: Ai Weiwei’s documentary showcases plight of refugees | CBC, The Current

Ai Weiwei visits Toronto for the first time | CBC Radio, Metro Morning

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei visits Canada to accept award | CBC TV, The National

Ai Weiwei, an artist in exile, turns to the refugee crisis | Macleans

Ai Weiwei on the need for humanity in the world’s refugee crisis | The National Post

Artist Ai Weiwei to receive Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship | The Globe and Mail

Ai Weiwei, in Toronto: Freedom of speech is the foundation of creativity | Lattin Magazine