An intriguing event is coming up at the New Museum this coming Saturday. Earlier this month, Wikileaks activist Jacob Appelbaum traveled to Beijing to meet with dissident artist Ai Weiwei. The visit, organized by New Museum affiliate Rhizome was filmed by Laura Poitras, who won an Academy Award this year for her documentary on Edward Snowden. Excerpts from a short film documenting the Ai Weiwei/Appelbaum collaboration will be played at Rhizome’s Seven on Seven Conference this weekend. Here’s an explanation from Heather Corcoran, Rhizome’s executive director:
It was important to bring together these two courageous people who are disseminating their messages using art and technology, respectively, and facing similar levels of scrutiny and hardship as a result. It represents the best that Rhizome achieves with Seven on Seven, which brings the worlds of technology and art into closer proximity, to share strategies for thinking critically about digital culture and communicating those ideas. Seven on Seven creates a bridge for luminaries in these two fields to work together. That Poitras chose to document this film as her first since Citizenfour, illustrates just how intertwined aesthetics and protest can be, linking together the narratives of Appelbaum and Ai with the subjects of Poitras other films. It’s important to recognize these people are not working in isolation.
Ai has been barred from traveling from China due to his sharp criticism of his government’s human rights record. Appelbaum is unable to enter the United States, fearing that he’ll be arrested for his Wikileaks involvement. You can find more details about the Seven on Seven Conference here.