Ai Weiwei Update: 04.15.11

• Dia Art Foundation director Philippe Vergne -- who gave his first thoughts on Ai Weiwei's detention to Eyeteeth readers -- pens a piece for Artinfo. Two snippets:
...I do not want to be free among individuals who value regression, fear, and stagnation — I want to be jailed with the villains. I want to be in detention with David Wojnarowicz, with Jean Genet, with Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, with Ai Weiwei. I'd rather be imprisoned with artists, intellectuals, and citizens whose work and actions makes us think and question rather than bend over with a smile to the oppression of convention....

...[Ai's] art is his ability to be a poet, a sculptor, a politician, an architect, a merchant, an activist, a citizen, a trickster. Ai Weiwei is the fou du roi, the sole person who is authorized to poke at the king because the king knows that his position is only as powerful as his acceptance of the critic. The minute the buffoon is silenced, the king is naked, and the king knows that it is not pretty...
• Vergne says he's taking part in Sunday's sit-in protest, a Creative Time project that's happening at 1 pm local time at Chinese embassies worldwide. Find locations here.

• More disappearances: Liu Xiaoyuan, a lawyer with ties to Ai, has been missing since Thursday night, The Guardian reports, and designer Liu Zhenggang, who works for Ai's wife's company FAKE, has been detained by plainclothes police.

• Bozidar Brazda, writing on Ai a few days ago, mentions China's so-called "50-Cent Army," a group I suspect is active on Reddit: "[M]embers of China's online 50-Cent Army (so named for the half dollar they earn per pro-CCP comment that they post) claim that Weiwei masterminded his own arrest and that it is indeed a work of art, a suggestion that gives the whole affair a kind of Enter Through The Gift Shop -- by way of Kafka -- vibe."

• China has refused to grant a visa to German author and scholar Tilman Spengler, who was scheduled to be part of the early April opening of the art exhibition Age of Enlightenment in Beijing. His crime: he praised imprisoned Nobel-prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Some MPs in Germany are calling for the exhibition to be shut down following Ai Weiwei's arrest: While featuring works from three German museums and receiving funding from the German government, the show represents anything but Enlightenment values, the MPs say.

• CNNGo looks at the active response to Ai's detention by artists in Hong Kong.

• One year ago, The Art Newspaper trumpeted the exhibition as "bold and timely," noting China's "blazing resurgence." From the April 2010 edition:
China’s leaders recognise that culture can buy goodwill abroad. High profile exchanges like the Enlightenment exhibition can convey openness and sensitivity as well as confidence.
• The petition: 84,000 voices and counting.

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