Ai Wei Wei was radicalized by the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan. He went to the province with his team and painstakingly compliled a list of names of schoolchildren and others who were killed. This informed his art, see below. The rebar comes from buildings destroyed in the quake; it was straightened for the art piece, which has a cut running through it. Another piece in the installation is the list of thousands of names of children who died.
Ai Wei Wei was attacked and beaten by the provincial police when doing this work. He had surgery for cerebral swelling and hemorrhage.