Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ai Weiwei by Ryan Emond

I was commissioned by the City of Toronto to shoot and edit a video documenting the installation of Ai Weiwei's Forever Bicycles for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche. This project, for me, was one that when you sleep you dream about it—fully immersed. Living it; breathing it; I watched the structure come alive from the ground up and I feel honoured to have been given that opportunity. 3,144 bicycles, the most Weiwei has used of this work to date, were stacked 100 feet in length and 30 feet high in Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square.

Upon receiving news that I was chosen, it was hard to do anything other than immediately start planning. My mind was bursting with ideas. Ai Weiwei has been an inspiration since my first trip to Beijing a couple years ago, after visiting Galerie Urs Meile and 798 Art Zone. I was thrilled to document such an important international artist’s work. The thought of the possibility of him seeing my work after being so enchanted by his was amongst my main motivations while completing the project. 

As I was filming, I wanted to make sure I showed how the small parts of the overall structure were so important. To do this, I highlighted the individual tools during the slow motion segment of the video - they were surprisingly modest; basically just a wrench, some bolts, and a lot of tedious and skilful work. This construction team was beyond impressive. In many projects like this the process is often lost in the beauty and awe of the final structure. It was an inspiring experience to be able to watch the process go from the ground up. I can imagine what a wonderful feeling the team had when they were building a structure to be enjoyed by so many. It was a pleasure getting to know you all. Great work! 

The project was definitely one of the most important I have ever worked on. The amount of human effort by some and enjoyment by others is incalculable – and it all came from one man's idea. The days following the big night I found myself returning to the structure for inspiration on the edit. I feel like I have developed a very personal connection with the piece. Thank you Ai Weiwei for reminding me how passionate I can become in the right situation. Thank you to my family and friends for keeping me sane during the all nighters (this entire video was shot and edited in 20 days) and thank you to the City of Toronto for trusting me with such an important process and giving me full creative control. It was a pleasure to work with you all. A big thank you as well to Kenneth Vinyaratn ( for assisting me for a few days on this, you were a huge help!

The installation will be on exhibit from October 6 to 27, 2013 -

Music by the very talented Mokhov:

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