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Chinese artist Ai Weiwei under house arrest

Discussion in 'Chinese Defence Forum' started by TruthSeeker, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. TruthSeeker

    TruthSeeker PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    Chinese artist Ai Weiwei under house arrest

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Acclaimed Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei says he's under house arrest, which prevents him from attending the razing of his studio in Shanghai by Chinese authorities.

    The Beijing-based Ai invited fans and supporters, via Twitter, to a "River Crab Fest" at his newly built Shanghai studio on Sunday.

    The fete was to draw attention to the government's destruction of the studio in the city's financial area.

    "I'm under house arrest [in Beijing] to prevent me from going to Shanghai," the 53-year-old artist and designer said late on Friday. "You can never really argue with this government.

    'They've told me I would be held until midnight Sunday.' — Ai Weiwei, artist

    "They've told me I would be held until midnight Sunday and I would be prevented from leaving before then."

    Ai was invited by the head of Shanghai's business district to create a studio space on a plot of land. He spent two years designing and building the studio, only to be hit with an edict in July stating the building was an illegal structure because he hadn't secured the proper permits.

    "They're very contradictory," Ai said, referring to the local officials who declared his studio illegal. "They asked that I donate the building to the government for a museum, but how could I do it if it's an illegal structure?"

    Other artists building on the same site have not been affected by the destroy order.

    Many of his guests, who include musicians, artists and journalists, have said they plan to go to the demolition even though the party has been cancelled.

    Ai has been a controversial figure for the Chinese government. The son of one of China's most famous poets, Ai Qing, he has carved a name for himself internationally with his art installations.

    Most recently, he made headlines with his Sunflower Seeds exhibit at London's Tate Modern, filling one of its halls with 100 million porcelain seeds.

    He famously quit the consortium working on the Bird's Nest stadium built for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, charging that China was offering a whitewashed image.

    Ai continues to investigate the deaths of more than 5,000 schoolchildren in the Sichuan earthquake of May 2008 and suffered a beating — he claims it came from police officials — while in Sichuan province in August 2009, just before he was to testify in a court case involving another activist researching the earthquake.


    Read more: CBC News - Art & Design - Chinese artist Ai Weiwei under house arrest
     
  2. Chinese-Dragon

    Chinese-Dragon RETIRED TTA

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    How ironic that they are eating "river crab". :azn:
     
  3. huzihaidao12

    huzihaidao12 SENIOR MEMBER

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    Has been discussed on this joke, ah, this news. Focus, please.
     
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  4. Nomenclature

    Nomenclature FULL MEMBER

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    I didn't know Ai Weiwei is Ai Qing's son til I read this.
     
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  5. TruthSeeker

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    Ai Weiwei's Shanghai art studio to be demolished

    The artist who has filled the Turbine Hall in the Tate Modern with millions of hand-crafted porcelain seeds blamed a "political issue" after it emerged that Chinese officials have ordered the demolition of his Shanghai studio, which he designed himself.

    Ai Weiwei, who also designed the 2008 Beijing Olympic stadium, said officials had told him the Shanghai government was frustrated at his human rights campaigning.

    The building was to have formed part of a new cultural area, with Ai using it as a studio and to teach architecture courses. But now Ai has been accused of erecting the structure without the necessary planning permission and a demolition notice has been ordered.

    Ai said the government informed him two months ago that the newly completed studio would be knocked down because it was illegal.

    "I was very surprised because the whole process was under government supervision and they were very enthusiastic in pushing it," he said. "Two years ago quite a high official [from Shanghai] came to my studio to ask me to build a studio in this newly developed cultural district in an agricultural area. I told him I wouldn't do it because I had no faith in government, but he somehow convinced me, saying he had come to Beijing from Shanghai, and so I said OK.

    "Half a dozen artists were invited to build studios there because they wanted a cultural area. I'm the only one singled out to have my studio destroyed."

    The official demolition notice said Ai, who also has a studio in Beijing, where he is based, had not applied in advance for a project planning licence, but the artist says authorities told him they had arranged the necessary papers. Asked why the Shanghai authorities' stance had changed, Ai said: "We asked the same question. I can't tell. All the people we asked in government said 'You should know.'

    "They said they are sorry and can pay back what has been put into the project, but the building has to be destroyed.

    "It's not only money; architecture, after it has been built, is not just bricks and concrete. It has become a work with its own meaning."

    Ai has had something of a turbulent relationship with authorities in China ever since the age of 10, when his family was exiled to a labour camp, after his father, Ai Qing – China's leading poet – was accused of being a dissident.

    He lived in the US for more than a decade before returning to China in 1993 when his father fell ill. While he was exhibiting in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, in August last year, he was beaten about the head by police who raided his hotel, and suffered a haemorrhage a month later as a result of the blow.

    Ai's "installation" in the province was a public list of more than 5,000 children killed by a 2008 earthquake.

    This year he made a documentary on the story of Feng Zhengzu, the Chinese human rights activist who spent more than three months living in Narita airport, in Tokyo, after being denied re-entry to China eight times following a trip to see his sister in Japan. Ai said officials had told him the Shanghai government was "frustrated" about documentaries he had made. on sensitive incidents in the city.

    "It's definitely some kind of political issue. It's just so weird. Nobody can explain the situation and even high officials who invited me only say 'Sorry, we can't help' or 'We tried, but it's impossible'."

    The final demolition order – which would give him 20 days to move out – could arrive any day, Ai said, but in the meantime he is planning to hold a farewell party at the studio on Sunday "to celebrate its life and death".

    Guests will be treated to hundreds of river crabs – a much-loved Shanghai delicacy, but importantly a delicacy whose name is a homonym for "harmony". The term is often used by the government to assert its own successes in the country, but has been adopted by critics, who now use it to take a swipe at the regime.

    "Once I said it would be destroyed, I had hundreds of supporters who wanted to see it. I said anyone who wanted to have a party could be my guest and several hundred people want to come," Ai said.

    "Hopefully it will be a harmonious party but I don't know how the local government will react."

    The sunflower seeds exhibition at the Tate was enthusiastically received by critics, but ran into controversy when visitors were barred from walking on them because of the ceramic dust thrown up.

    Ai Weiwei's Shanghai art studio to be demolished | Art and design | The Guardian
     
  6. TruthSeeker

    TruthSeeker PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    The ephemeral joy of Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds at Tate Modern

    When an installation of millions of sunflower seeds by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei opened at Tate Modern a few weeks ago, it looked like it was going to be a popular hit – similar to Olafur Eliasson’s giant sun. (His Weather Project drew millions of visitors who lay down in the turbine hall to look at the sun and clouds of mist.)

    It felt like stepping onto a pebble beach and people were playing with the sunflower seeds, creating big spirals and running them through their fingers, as though they were on a beach holiday.

    At that point I didn’t even know that they were 100 million ceramic seeds, individually handpainted by Chinese workers in the city of Jingdezhen, a centre of porcelain production in imperial China. So I too stomped around and took pleasure in the tactileness of this installation.

    Sadly, no more. A few days after the opening, the Tate decided that the installation caused dangerous levels of dust and closed it to visitors who now have to look at it from above, standing on a bridge. This is not what the artist wanted although I can understand the Tate’s decision – there really was a lot of dust. There was also concern that the paint on the seeds might not last until the end of the show next May.

    A solution might be to open it to a few visitors at a time who queue up – similar to other ‘interactive’ art installations. (For example, you have to queue for John Turrell’s light installation at the Gagosian Gallery in Britannia Street.)

    Otherwise the delights of this work will be lost on visitors. As to its meaning, sunflower seeds play a particular role in Chinese culture. Mao was often likened to the sun and the people to sunflowers turning to gaze at him. For millions of people, sunflower seeds were also the only food available during the Great Leap Forward famine. The installation is also a comment on mass consumption and collective work.

    Weiwei, who was involved in the design of the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, often works with ceramics. For example, he smashed a 2,000-year-old Han Dynasty urn and decorated another one with a Coca-Cola logo. He also dipped traditional vases in bright colours.

    The artist, a regular Twitter user, has compared Sunflower Seeds to Twitter – a vast ocean of comments contributed by individuals that together form a mass of ideas. Go and judge for yourself – apparently you can still go up to the edge and it’s worth watching the short film accompanying the show.


    Ai Weiwei's Shanghai art studio to be demolished | Art and design | The Guardian
     
  7. huzihaidao12

    huzihaidao12 SENIOR MEMBER

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    Yes, sometimes life is too ironic.
     
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  8. TruthSeeker

    TruthSeeker PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    China Raises Diplomatic Stakes Over Liu

    By JEREMY PAGE

    BEIJING—China issued an ultimatum to foreign governments over Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize last month, saying they faced a "simple choice" between challenging China's judicial system or developing a "true friendly relationship."

    Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai told a news briefing Friday that European and other governments that continued to show support for Mr. Liu would have to "bear the consequences"—raising the diplomatic stakes over an issue that appears to have angered and united China's Communist Party leaders.

    Chinese authorities also placed Ai Weiwei, one of the country's most famous artists and activists, under house arrest Friday in the latest sign of a broad crackdown on political dissent since Mr. Liu, who is serving an 11-year jail sentence for subversion, won the Prize.

    Mr. Cui's warning came after several European diplomats revealed that China had made verbal and written requests for their governments not to attend the Nobel awards ceremony in Oslo, the Norwegian capital, in December, although most said they still planned to go.

    The warning, combined with a series of state media diatribes against Mr. Liu over the last fortnight, suggest that Party leaders now regard him as a serious threat and are growing increasingly intolerant of support for him both at home and overseas.

    It also suggests that they may be willing to use—or at least to threaten to use—China's rapidly expanding economic power to put pressure on European and other Western governments anxious to promote commercial ties with Beijing to boost their flagging economies.

    That has troubling implications for foreign governments seeking business deals with Beijing.

    David Cameron, Britain's prime minister, begins his first official visit to China next week to try to promote British business, although diplomats say he is expected to raise concerns about Mr. Liu.

    Britain's Foreign Office confirmed that it had received a request from China to boycott the Nobel awards ceremony, but said it planned to send its ambassador in Oslo as usual.

    The choice before some European countries and others is clear and simple," Mr. Cui said. "Do they want to be part of the political game to challenge China's judicial system or do they want to develop a true friendly relationship with the Chinese government and people in a responsible manner?" he added."

    "They have to make the choice according to their own judgement," he said. "If they make the wrong choice, they have to bear the consequences."

    Mr Liu, a former literature professor who took part in the pro-democracy protests around Tiananmen Square in 1989, was convicted in December after organizing a political manifesto called Charter 08 which called for media freedom and multiparty elections.

    Several Western governments, including the U.S., have congratulated him on his award and repeatedly called for Chinese authorities to release him from prison and lift restrictions on his wife, Liu Xia, who has been under virtual house arrest since he won the Prize.

    China has denounced the award as an "obscenity" and part of a Western conspiracy to undermine a rising China. It has also portrayed Mr. Liu as a criminal who hated his own country, and detained or placed under house arrest dozens of his supporters and other political activists.

    Mr. Ai, a prominent political activist and famous artist, recently produced a video interview with the family of a girl who was allegedly run over and killed by the son of a senior police officer in northern China.

    Mr. Ai told The Wall Street Journal he had been placed under house arrest to prevent him from attending a party on Sunday to mark the demolition of his studio in Shanghai by local authorities, which he says is punishment for his political activism.

    China Raises Diplomatic Stakes Over Liu - WSJ.com
     
  9. TruthSeeker

    TruthSeeker PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    I am glad that I could bring to your attention some new information about a fellow countryman. :tup:
     
  10. siegecrossbow

    siegecrossbow PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    Personally I think the governmental actions are ridiculous and over sensitive this time.
     
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  11. Chinese-Dragon

    Chinese-Dragon RETIRED TTA

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    Actually I agree. I think that this is an over-reaction.

    It's like using a cannon to kill a mosquito.
     
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  12. StingRoy

    StingRoy SENIOR MEMBER

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    Is the govt planning to build something else to replace the studio?... If not then why destroy it? ... Just legitimize it and move on... the Chinese govt should encourage creative thinking in today's world and artists should be given due credit... This would definitely anger the artist community.
     
  13. Nomenclature

    Nomenclature FULL MEMBER

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    Yeah thank you for that.

    Ai Qing was one of my favorite poets during my youthful flirtation with modern Chinese poetry. I still remember reading his essays on the art of poetry, even though I've largely became disillusioned with modernity.

    Of course Ai Qing is known not just to regular readers of poetry. He's well-known among educated Chinese because appearance of his poems in standard high school texts. I guess everyone schooled in China will know his famous lines "然后我死了/连羽毛也腐烂在土地里面/为什么我的眼里常含泪水?因为我对这土地爱得深沉" (Then I died/ with my feathers rotten in the soil/ Why were tears always in my eyes? / Because I loved this land so dearly)

    Anyway, it's interesting to note Ai Qing didn't start off as a poet. He was mostly known as a painter before he was arrested by the police in the French Concession in Shanghai because of his activism. Only in the prison did he turn to poetry. So you can say the French made a poet out of him by throwing him in jail for three years.

    Now it would be ironic if CCP throw Ai Weiwei in jail and he too become a poet like his father. But I guess the government will feel very uncomfortable jailing Ai Weiwei because of the family connection. Which is understandable, they don't to draw the comparison between them and the French colonialists.
     
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  14. Nomenclature

    Nomenclature FULL MEMBER

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    Shanghai government was put into a rather difficult position. With the recently hardened political atmosphere they definitely don't want Ai Weiwei in their city. Demolishing his studio will force this hot potato back to Beijing, there he will be Beijing/Central government's problem.
     
  15. huzihaidao12

    huzihaidao12 SENIOR MEMBER

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    I agree that this is an overreaction, because it is really not necessary, since the clowns want to show, let him show, What is the relationship? Threat to the government? A clown? It is not possible.

    ---------- Post added at 08:44 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:43 AM ----------

    There are even more ironic, you may do not know.
     
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