Ai moved to New York in 1983, first living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, before moving to Manhattan. In the decade before he returned to Beijing, he took photographs of his daily life. Some of his photographs document influential individuals, including the composer Tan Dun and the poet Allen Ginsberg. He also captured important events such as the Tompkins Square Park riots in 1988, scenes of political activism, and social problems such as homelessness. Other photographs reveal Ai’s interest in the artists Jasper Johns, Marcel Duchamp, and Andy Warhol, as well as notable twentieth-century art movements, in particular Dadaism and Surrealism.