who the hell are you?

zhao from singapore.


am i really going to get my t-shirt?

many already have.

i will try my best. i have only a few hours a week to silkscreen them, (studio time is limited), and mailing them is a slow and painful process - like making a stop frame movie of your own root canal treatment.

But i will try.

I will send a direct message (via instagram) to you with a photo of the package when it is ready to ship. It'll be stamped with paid postage - to be sent via airmail to wherever you may be.


why are you doing this? why ai Weiwei?

ai weiwei didn't have to agitate, irritate, strike the hornets' nest when things were going so well for him (he was building THE birds' nest after all). but he did, over and over again. It was, as he said, "his obligation".

i made aicantbehere my obligation.

because i feel ai weiwei can change things better than i can.

he can speak louder, clearer, with greater wisdom, authority and beauty for those oppressed.

it's like i'm a mouse who could, with the help of other mice, try, in our small ways, to bring him the keys.

so ai weiwei could get out, and do more, for everyone.


zhao 2014


Jasmine asked some great questions. and these are my answers.



1.     How effective do you feel online activism is as a way of protest?

It can get very loud very quickly, and it can be drowned very quickly too. but never completely. once the seed is sowed there is always a chance for a full bloom.

2.     When people participate in your campaign are you concerned about the incentive to participate? Real concern for the campaign versus participation for the t-shirt or online promotion?

 i need to believe that people do it to help ai weiwei. and i do. which is why it never concerns me. each post is a gesture and the t-shirt is a gesture. everything is art. And them having sent one, means it's a way to spread the message further if they do wear it. we all win.

3.     To what extent do you think Weiwei’s position as artist/activist has effect the images that people post on behalf of the campaign?

the images are strong, and powerful -  many are heartfelt. his art moved people and people want to express their support and thanks - for bringing new meanings and perspectives to their lives. that i believe is usually the inspiration for their posts.

4.     Do you feel physical protest is more effective than online activism?

each have its own strength. weiwei's lost of passport is a loss to the world. it could be a long slow journey, we can have a longer term, global protest online - something that is harder to do in the physical world.

5.     Does the phrase “Ai can’t be here” comment on the nature of online activism? Participators can be countries apart and still fight for the same cause…

yes it is global. like the web. like a web it slowly spreads.

6.     When spreading awareness what do you think plays the most important part, the image? The text? Or juxtaposition of both?

the spirit. the contribution. the act. as long as it is done, it's a step forward.

7.     Do you think that in order to spread awareness effectively it is essential to have good design or think of the aesthetic result?

no. there is no need. it needs to be spread easily. powerfully. and the best way to do that is to do it the way you believe in. the way you like.

8.     How effective have you found the project at connecting you with like-minded people?

very. made some very good friends. and they are great contributors, and creative minds. they make their own extensions and variations, spreading the message further than i ever could alone.

9.     I feel that the emergence of online activism, mixed with creativity and the feeling that everyone has a voice is similar to the notions of punk. Do you think online activists are the new punks?

yes. but there is harmony too in this anarchy. many voices and instruments but the tune is one.

10. How effective do you think activism is when combined with fashion or wearable garments?

i think it's very underrated. it feels very disposable like flippant like a bumper sticker. but it gets noticed. it gets read. it goes inside minds. and that is where seeds can grow best.

zhao 2014