The deadly Sichuan Earthquake in May 2008 takes the lives of an officially acknowledged 69,197 people. Later this year, Ai Weiwei uses his celebrity to launch a public investigation into the shoddy school buildings that collapsed and killed thousands children during the catastrophe. He organizes volunteers to compile a list of students killed in the earthquake, and posts their accounts on his blog on May 12 of 2009, the earthquake's first anniversary.
Artinfo has a timeline of Ai Weiwei's life here
See also his last work at the Tate: Ai Weiwei's Sunflower seeds at the Tate
The news that Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been detained by authorities has prompted significant concern here at TED-HQ. We had shown a film of him at last month's conference, an unexpected and courageous statement about his treatment by the government, social change, the power of the web, and his hope for the future of China. The film, which was shown as Ai Weiwei himself watched live over the web in the middle of the night, prompted a huge standing ovation from the TED audience.