An update on Chinese dissent artist Ai Weiwei's latest protests
The artist was prevented from attending his own party, which was planned in order to bring attention to the impending demolition of his studio in Shanghai
by Lei Jin
Date Published: 11/09/2010
More than 400 supporters of Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei gathered at his $1.1m studio in urban Shanghai on Sunday, November 7, to throw a party in honor of the house's impending demolition. Officials say, "Ai's studio did not go through the application procedures, therefore, it is an illegal building." Wei has gone on record saying he believes this demolition order was made in retaliation of his two controversial documentary films which upset the Shanghainese government. "They were very embarrassed," Ai tells Time magazine. "They pictured me as trouble for them even though they invited me before the Olympics to build my own studio."
Though the artist invited guests to his party via Twitter, he announced on Friday that he was being forcefully detained in his home in Beijing by the Chinese authorities. Weiwei said that he had been told not to leave his house and that officials had a van parked outside his home so that he would not try to leave. Sunday's event took place even without Weiwei's presence, as his supporters made a light-hearted statement by eating river crab. "He Xie" -- the Chinese name for river crab -- sounds like the word "harmony," a euphemism used to stand up to censorship. He was released from house arrest on November 7.
Ai Weiwei is the creator of the current sunflower seed walk exhibit at London's Tate Modern and a collaborator in the creation of the Beijing Olympics "Bird's Nest." Born in 1957 in Beijing, he has played a key role in contemporary Chinese art over the last two decades. He has been highly vocal about human rights issues in China. In his most recent work, a giant installation of more than 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds in Turbine Hall of London's Tate Modern, Ai encouraged visitors to walk over the seeds and roll in them. However, the display has been roped off to prevent visitors from walking on them over porcelain dust issues.
For more information, go to his official website.