Ai Weiwei Update: 04.14.11

Ai Weiwei on the Met's roof; photo: Alison Klayman

• Ai Weiwei, whose art frequently features his own outstretched middle finger pointed at centers of power, including Tiananmen Square, is "confessing" to his crimes. That according to a Beijing-controlled paper in Hong Kong. The Wen Po claims Ai "has had quite a good attitude in co-operating with the investigation and has begun to confess," adding that the artist -- in detention since Apr. 3 -- is suspected of bigamy, tax evasion and distributing pornography. Ai's family, naturally, says the report is absurd.

• Hong Kong police are trying to track down who's behind the "Who's Afraid of Ai Weiwei" graffiti that's been appearing there.

• Amnesty: China has targeted around 100 human rights activists. Meanwhile, 21-year old student Wei Qiang, who worked in Ai's studio, has been sentenced to "two years of re-education through labor" for attending a pro-democracy demonstration, The Australian reports.

Der Spiegel interviews a defensive Meinhard von Gerkan, the German architect who designed the National Museum of China on Tiananmen Square. He says China today isn't as bad as East Germany was. "I experienced the East German system up close, because I studied in Berlin. What I experienced at the time -- the level of inhuman behavior -- doesn't exist in China by a long shot," he says. Der Spiegel's reply: "Ai Weiwei, the imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and many others in similar positions would probably disagree."

• "Something historically obscene is happening here," writes Jonathan Jones. "It is as if different times exist simultaneously. In one time-stream, democracy is in global demand and artists including Ai Weiwei are revealing the richness of China's culture to the world. Yet in the sinister second stream it is 1950, and dissidents can be blackguarded and bullied with total impunity by a system that takes Orwell's 1984 as a handbook."

• More dualities in a great piece by another Jones -- Colin -- in Dissent, who quotes a 2009 Ai interview: “On the one hand, the prime minister would memorize my father’s poetry in front of the great public, but on the other hand, the police were, you know, following me. So it’s hard to say.” Read "The Purge of Ai Weiwei."

• In a 2010 interview, Ai said, "I have to speak for the generation, or generations, who doesn't have a chance to speak out... Also I have to speak out for people around me who are afraid, who think it is not worth it or who have totally given up hope. So I want to set an example: you can do it and this is OK, to speak out."

• Video: Alison Klayman's Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs, 1983-1993 (20 min.).

• The Times blogs about Creative Time's Sunday protest, which is based on Ai's 2007 Documenta installation in which he set out 1001 Qing Dynasty chairs. This time, the plan is for it to be happening worldwide in front of Chinese embassies and using all kinds of chairs. (If you're going, please feel free to share photos with me. Email paul [at] eyeteeth [dot] org.)


design.christinewongyap.com said...

"In a 2012 interview..."!?!? Ai's speaking out in the future?

Paul Schmelzer said...