International artist Ai Weiwei is a master at showing how silly the authorities are in harassing him. He may be best known as the designer of the Beijing Olympic Stadium, often called the Birdsnest. He fell out with the authorities before the stadium was completed over the regime’s human rights offenses.
After the Sichuan earthquake which saw thousands killed, Ai stepped up his pressure. He sought answers about why so many school children were killed in their classrooms and was attacked in his hotel room in Chengdu for his troubles. He followed up his inquiries with an installation of children’s book bags – one for each child killed.
Last year his state of the art studio in Shanghai was destroyed. Authorities there claimed that he had not obtained the correct permits. He turned the destruction of his studio into an artistic statement. He currently operates his business from Beijing where he is under house arrest. The house arrest follows his incarceration as he was leaving to attend art shows in Hong Kong and then to Europe.
Authorities decided that Ai received too many visitors and in an attempt to intimidate them set up camera surveillance outside his dwelling. Mr. Ai turned the tables on them by installing close circuit cameras within his house and broadcast the images on Facebook. He has since been ordered to turn off the cameras. He also had made good use of Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/AWWNeverSorry
Currently Paris is installing some of the artist’s photographs, moving the collection from Switzerland. Those in the UK will be familiar with the Tate Museum’s Sunflower Seeds 21010 installation of porcelain sunflower seeds. The museum has purchased ten tonnes or about eight million of the ceramic seeds for a permanent display.
The artist’s fame has continued in spite of the Chinese authorities’ attempt to sideline the irrepressible man. He is currently collaborating with the same design team that he worked with on the Beijing stadium to design a temporary Pavilion for the Serpentine this summer in Kensington Gardens.
Tags: ai weiwei, art, human rights, sunflower seeds 2010, Chinese authorities