His powerful sculptures landed him in hot water with authorities in his native China, and now, Ai Weiwei is trying out a different kind of heavy metal. Having worked with sculpture as well as audiovisual art, the artist and activist is planning on recording a heavy metal album called Shen Qu, or “Divine Comedy.” The Dante and Heaven/Hell motifs make for pretty excellent heavy metal concept album fodder, if not a little well-worn, but either way, props to Ai for doing his homework.
The artist told The Guardian his interest in testing the musical waters came from his 81-day stint in jail, where he realized his lack of musical knowledge outside of Chinese revolutionary songs. Consultants on the album will include Chinese rock artist Zuoxiao Zuzhou as well as one of his marquee supporters from the pop music world, Elton John, for whom he made a video. Material will include a song called “The Great Firewall of China,” about the country’s Internet censorship. It will probably not include a cover of “Holy Diver,” as sweet as that has the potential to be.
Ai isn’t a stranger to using popular music as his medium, however. He did do that amazing “Gangnam Style” video, perhaps the only “Gangnam Style” parody the world actually really needed. Let’s revisit that below.