In this live panel discussion, artist and activist Ai Weiwei met Human Rights Watch CEO Kenneth Roth and New York Times Pentagon correspondent Helene Cooper to explore how creativity can address global crises.
From climate change to migration, populism to human rights abuses, the crises of the 21st century are global in magnitude, revealing the delicate web of connections that bind nations and citizens, individuals and ecosystems. Faced with tyranny and violence, to say nothing of the inordinate complexity of our times, can an artist really hope to make a difference? Does human creativity truly have the power to change our world for the better?
Ai Weiwei is living proof that it does. Raised in a labour camp and later beaten, surveilled and imprisoned on trumped-up charges by the Chinese state, Ai has dedicated his life to the struggle against corruption and oppression of all kinds. As a conceptual artist and activist fighting for justice, he has become an icon in his own lifetime, renowned world-wide for his work promoting freedom of thought and expression, compassion, and humanitarian values.
For one unmissable night at the How To Academy, Weiwei was joined in conversation by Kenneth Roth, CEO of Human Rights Watch – an NGO investigating and reporting abuses in five continents. From the Syrian Civil War to the Rohingya Crisis, US immigration to the South Sudan Conflict, the lawyers, journalists and country experts of Human Rights Watch help hold abusers to account and bring justice to victims.
Weiwei and Kenneth were hosted by Helene Cooper, a Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times and herself a refugee to the United States, having fled a military coup in Liberia aged 14.