Ai Weiwei Update: 05.31.11

• As Ai Weiwei's detention continues -- he's now been in Chinese police custody for nearly 59 days -- activists continue turning their protests from the tone-deaf Chinese authorities to the western art museums and galleries that are still engaging with the country's art scene. A new web bookmarklet created by F.A.T. let's you superimpose the central image from Ai's series "Study in Perspective" -- in which he photographed himself flipping the bird to seats of political power in China and elsewhere -- onto websites of your chosing. Some, naturally, are targeting museum sites, like that of the Milwaukee Art Museum, which is taking a show of Chinese art, yet remains silent about the imprisonment of that country's most famous artist.

• Also from F.A.T. -- that's Free Art Technology -- the China Blocker, a web browser extension that inverts China's internal web censorship by blocking out all Chinese sites from your browser while web surfing.

• When the exhibition The Emperor’s Private Paradise opens in Milwaukee next week, artist Mike Brenner will be there to protest. He'll be publicly shaving his head to look like Ai and invites others to do the same. He's not the only artist with Milwaukee's ties who'll be protesting the museum's showing of the work.

Hari Kunzru in The Guardian:
Ai's detention is, among other things, a watershed moment for the international art world, the equivalent of the moral tests so badly flunked by technology companies like Cisco and Yahoo when faced with the dizzying financial vistas of the Chinese market. Notoriously fond of adopting radical postures, and notoriously shy of turning down money, players in the business of contemporary art – gallerists, collectors, curators, auctioneers and fellow artists – must now decide what risks (if any) they are prepared to take in defence of one of their own. In the US, the Milwaukee Art Museum, which is about to host a "Summer of China" in collaboration with the Palace Museum in Beijing, has become a focus for discussion about what role museums can or should play in the debate about artistic censorship and human rights.
• China now says it wants back works by Ai that were the center of protests in San Diego. Tyler Green reports that Chinese authorities want the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to return their recently acquired Marble Chairs (2010). While the pieces were part of the museum's 24-hour protest of Ai's detention, the call for the pieces' return goes back to last fall. China is challenging the export license the museum used to ship the pieces, but MCASD director Hugh Davies says "until compelled by the authorities to return the chairs, we have no intention of doing so."

• The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), home to The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army, a major exhibition of archaeological works presented in collaboration with the People’s Republic of China, doesn't "do" politics. Says museum flak Sabrina Merceron: "We don’t do any politics, we just support art as this is the mission of a museum. It’s very important that you make the distinction as one can perfectly cohabitate with the other.”

• Join the nearly 130,000 other people who have signed this petition calling for a western art-world boycott of China.


Jake said...

That Bookmarklet will come in handy even after Ai's release (fingers crossed)

Paul Schmelzer said...

Yeah, just wait for election season...

Paul said...

Thanks for your article, I really appreciate it.
As an artist, I want to share with you how we can force the Chinese government to disclose the whereabouts of Artist Ai Weiwei who is imprisoned without charges.
I found a poll on Qwanz.com " Should cultural exchanges between China and the rest of world be boycotted until the whereabouts and charges against Chinese artist Ai Weiwei are clarified?
If we all answer this, share it on Facebook and Twitter, and then , through the site, send on results, to Elected officials, government agencies and the press, we may be able to create together enough noise and pressure to force the Chinese Government to react.
Please click on http://qwanz.com/headline/international-eventually-by-country/should-cultural-exchanges-between-china-and-the-rest-of-world-be-boycotted-until-the-whereabouts-and-charges-against-chinese-artist-ai-weiwei-are-clarified/
Your voice is important. Please help.
Many thanks;
PS: Don’t forget to share this with all your artists friends