Ai Weiwei on why he’s doing new work to support his latest activist cause: Tiger Protection

WWF honors the year of the tiger – and its year Initiative to double the numbers of wild tigers – by collaborating with twelve artists, including Sergeant Shaw, Rina Saini Kalat and Gary Hume, for the latest edition of “Tomorrow’s Tigers. The limited edition art carpet charity exhibition takes place at Sotheby’s London from November 24-29.

Ai Weiwei He is the big star of the occasion. constribte The tiger, The only rug in the gallery for sale. Other works in Tigers of Tomorrow are available in editions of up to ten, all inspired by traditional Tibetan tiger rugs.

Rug expert Christopher Farr oversaw production of all work across Tigers of Tomorrow, including Ai’s. Artwise curators partnered with Christopher Farr’s team to tap master weavers from Turquoise Mountain in Afghanistan for their stand-alone Ai work, which is made from traditional Ghazani wool in natural floral colors such as saffron, yellow and fava.

tiger They are priced at £150,000, while other rugs are being finalized on sale. The proceeds will benefit tiger conservation in 13 countries, from India to Vietnam. Since 2018The Tigers of Tomorrow project raised more than $780,000.

Gary Hume water tiger. Commissioned for the Tigers of Tomorrow
and WWF-UK. Sponsored by Artwise, fabricated by Christopher Farr.
Image (c) Artwise.

Ai told Artnet News that his interest in tigers dates back to when he was living in China. But an important moment came in 2015, when filming began human flow (2017) Documentary on the global refugee crisis. While working with Four Paws International in Gaza, “we saved many animals that were dying due to food deprivation,” he recalls. His shots of a dying tiger named Laziz have been seen in many of his exhibitions.

On another trip to Mexico, Ai witnessed lions and tigers At the animal rescue center. “They were captured, put into captivity, used for entertainment, and then abandoned,” he recalls.

Ai Weiwei, tiger. Image courtesy Artwise.

Ai sees the tiger’s plight as just one part of a much larger situation. “To satisfy an insatiable desire,” says the artist, “humans are constantly depriving other species of the possibility of existence.” This leads to the extinction of an unimaginable number of species, including tigers. Education never developed in history, and at the same time cruelty to animals was not at all widespread. In ancient times, people, with a strong mystical imagination, used to respect animals and see their survival instinct.

Due to poaching and habitat loss, today’s global tiger population has shrunk by about 95 percent, down from about 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century. However, conservation efforts are working – albeit modestly. The number of tigers in 2016 grew for the first time ever, to 3,900 individuals. In July 2022, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species estimated there are 4,500 wild tigers today, with an estimated three-quarters living in protected areas.

The gesture represented by tiger It’s still “just a drop in the ocean,” said Ai. “It is merely a symbol of the good intentions of human beings. It is an attempt to explain through art what we can never explain – which is the dignity and beauty of life.”

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