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How to Understand Our Times | with Ai Weiwei, Kenneth Roth, Helene Cooper

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Central Hall Westminster

Storey's Gate, Westminster

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SW1H 9NH

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How To Academy presents...How to Understand Our Times: Ai Weiwei In Conversation with Kenneth Roth and Helene Cooper

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Artist and activist Ai Weiwei meets Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth and New York Times journalist Helene Cooper to explore how human 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, Ai will be joined in conversation by Kenneth Roth, Executive Director 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 will be 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.

Ai Weiwei, born 28 August 1957 in Beijing, is a Chinese contemporary artist and activist. Ai collaborated with architects Herzog & de Meuron as consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics. As an activist, he has been openly critical of the Chinese Government's stance on democracy and human rights. He investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of "tofu-dreg schools" in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing Capital International Airport on 3 April, he was held for 81 days without charge; officials alluded to allegations of "economic crimes". Since being allowed to leave China in 2015, he has lived in Berlin, Germany, with his family, working and traveling internationally.

Kenneth Roth is the executive director of Human Rights Watch, one of the world's leading international human rights organizations, which operates in more than 90 countries. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch in 1987, Roth served as a federal prosecutor in New York and for the Iran-Contra investigation in Washington, DC. A graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, Roth has conducted numerous human rights investigations and missions around the world. He has written extensively on a wide range of human rights abuses, devoting special attention to issues of international justice, counterterrorism, the foreign policies of the major powers, and the work of the United Nations.

Helene Cooper is a Pentagon correspondent with The New York Times. She joined the paper in 2004 as assistant editorial page editor, before becoming diplomatic correspondent in 2006 and White House correspondent in 2009. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood, as well as Madame President: The Extraordinary Story of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

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Central Hall Westminster

Storey's Gate, Westminster

London

SW1H 9NH

United Kingdom

View Map

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No Refunds

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