This post has been updated to include video from the January 22, 2021 talk:
I met Ian Boyden about ten or so years ago through our mutual friend Sam Hamill and we’ll always be marked by that experience, in the best way possible. (Sure, we have some less than flattering Sam stories, but were hugely influenced by Sam’s commitment to art, poetry and justice and that’s what we remember most. Along with too much saké and not enough hamachikama and tempura shiso, but I digress.)
A FOREST OF NAMES is a book of 108 meditations on names of schoolchildren killed in the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, one of the deadliest earthquakes in human history, leaving tens of thousands dead, and millions displaced from their homes. A disproportionate number of the dead were schoolchildren, who were killed when their government-built school collapsed on them. Not only did the government refuse to hold accountable those who had built the schools in such a shoddy manner, but they actually determined the subject “politically sensitive” and forbade the discussion of these children, refused to list their names. Those who survived, the parents, siblings, whole communities weren’t allowed to grieve. This book is a quest for justice by Ian, an exercise in translation, compassion and has made him persona non grata in China, as you can imagine.
I have interviewed Ian on a few occasions.
On his new book:
on an Ai Weiwei exhibit related to the new book that he curated:
And with Sam Hamill about one of their collaborations:
There will be Q&A after Ian’s presentation. I hope you’ll join us.