Ai Weiwei Update: 05.05.11

Neugerriemschneider is hosting a show of Ai Weiwei's work, advertised by a huge "Where is Ai Weiwei?" banner on the Berlin gallery's facade by Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija (above). The New York Times on the exhibition (thanks, Kelsey):
Ai’s meditative installation features two sculptures, “Rock” and “Tree,” and offers a sanctuary in which the solace of nature has been fabricated with the help of premodern technology. “Rock” consists of a series of white porcelain outcroppings, fabricated in the city of Jingdezhen (the supposed birthplace of porcelain) and painted with a swirling blue motif. “Tree” assembles two trees together from segments of fallen trunks harvested in southern China, using a traditional Chinese technique involving giant screws and that adds a kinetic twist to their natural shape. The arrangement encourages a Taoist interpretation — the white “rocks” also resemble a formation of clouds floating across the floor, suggesting a temporary union of Heaven and Earth in which distinctions between the natural and synthetic have been collapsed.
NPR talks to Tang Chin, aka Tangerine, the 22-year old graffiti artist who's been stenciling "Who's afrai of Ai Weiwei?" stencils around Hong Kong. She faces a maximum of ten years in prison if captured by police for property damage. "I have to thank the police for drawing so much attention to this issue. Even if I have to go to jail, I think that would be a very, very worth it price to pay," she says. Others are now downloading Tangerine's stencil to do their own graffiti, and one artist is doing "flash graffiti" -- projections on city walls -- of the imagery.

• As writer/curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist calls Ai's blog -- released in book form last month by The MIT Press --"one of the greatest social sculptures of our time," The Telegraph posts the detained artist's top 10 tweets, translated into English.

• Through their "Ai Weiwei Works Here" campaign, Signal Fire's Amy Harwood and Ryan Pierce offer a downloadable "image as a graphic for screens and printed matter, and thereby brings Weiwei into homes, studios, streets, and virtual spaces."

• “The more a city embraces diversity and tolerates dissent, the stronger it becomes,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the unveiling of Ai's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads sculpture in Central Park Wednesday. Calling on China to release the artist, he said, “And there is no place on earth that gives freer rein to more voices and viewpoints than New York City ... This is a message from America to the whole world that we are the place where people can come and express themselves. China would be well served to listen to our message and to copy us.”

Sculptor Anish Kapoor on Tuesday: "I wish to dedicate my new work, Leviathan at the Grand Palais, Paris, to my colleague Ai Weiwei. His arrest, disappearance and alleged torture are unacceptable. When governments silence artists it bears witness to their barbarity."

• Now it appears that reporting on Ai is a jailable offense: The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Caijing magazine journalist Zhang Jialong, who'd written and tweeted about Ai, has been missing since having a "talk" with Beijing police on April 28. Ai's friend, journalist Wen Tao, has been missing since April 3.

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