On May 12, 2008 an earthquake with the magnitude of eight on the Richter scale occurred in the Chinese province of Sichuan. Among the circa 80,000 victims were several thousand children, who were buried underneath the rubble of collapsed schools. Because the buildings around the schools remained conspicuously unharmed, accusations were made of botched building work; these, however, were rejected by the government. Together with a team of about 30 volunteers, Ai Weiwei researched the names of the victims – in opposition to the government, which did not officially provide information on the actual number of the dead, and which threatened parents with reprisals if they provided their dead children’s names. Nonetheless, Ai Weiwei was able to publish more than 4,000 names on his blog.
"Remembering" is designed for the Haus der Kunst’s façade consisting of 9,000 backpacks made specifically for this purpose. With this installation Ai Weiwei recalls the earthquake in Sichuan since many backpacks of the buried children were found under the collapsed schools. The backpacks on the façade are in one of five colors and arranged to spell out the sentence "She lived happily for seven years in this world" in Chinese characters. These words stem from the mother of one of the earthquake victims commemorating her daughter. The pixel-like effect of the large image stretches across the entire façade. It is 100 meters long and ten meters high, and attached to the columns in front of the building with a steel structure.