Demolition of Ai Weiwei's studio
January 12, 2011 6:49 AM   Subscribe

Shanghaiist reports that the Chinese authorities have followed through on their promise to tear down Ai Weiwei's studio. (previously). The artist is under house arrest in Beijing.

Photostream of the destruction here.

The artist's current exhibition at Tate Modern: one hundred million hand-painted sunflower seeds, sculpted in porcelain. (previously)

Trailers for an upcoming documentary on Ai Weiwei - "Never Sorry"

More information on Ai Weiwei here

NYT report


Ai Weiwei previously on metafilter
posted by dubold (20 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Chinese seem to have a lot of interesting public art
posted by delmoi at 6:54 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're doing it wrong.
posted by swift at 6:57 AM on January 12, 2011


General rule: if government finds artists dangerous for doing art, government is profoundly frightened and concerned for their own legitimacy.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:22 AM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


While you're waiting for this documentary to come out, the BBC recently did one called Ai Weiwei - Without Fear or Favour that was pretty comprehensive about his life and development as an artist. Available in HD on Youtube in four parts (Parts I, II, III, and IV).
posted by reformedjerk at 7:44 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


General Rule: It might take awhile, but that government is going down.
posted by Senator at 8:09 AM on January 12, 2011


General Rule: When person is artist, Good Idea to be on good side of General.
posted by lemuring at 8:55 AM on January 12, 2011


I really like Ai WeiWei. I came across him first just before Documenta XII when he brought a 1001 Chinese nationals over and cut them loose as his art piece. Prophetically his Template 2007 collapsed during Doucmenta.

I apologize if this is a rehash.
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 8:57 AM on January 12, 2011


All governments go down sooner or later, from the best-most-fair to the more heinous corrupt and evil.

One of the reasons the China is evolving back into a dominate world power again so quickly is because they don't have to deal with competing political factions, there is no political opposition to slow things down. Great for short term gains, horrible for anything that might stand in their way.
posted by edgeways at 9:17 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


would Ai WeiWei want his country "torn down"?
posted by clavdivs at 9:47 AM on January 12, 2011


I just saw the Tate Modern piece a couple of weeks ago and was quite taken by it. As far as his suppression by the Chinese government, that's very sad.
posted by ob at 10:14 AM on January 12, 2011


Part of me regrets the fact that some of these artists can't swallow their pride and try a little harder to maneuver within the confines of their nation's political culture to induce change, especially if their art doesn't contain a strong political element. I don't condone the PRC's zero-tolerance policy for dissent, but these artists aren't going to change PRC politics overnight, especially not through sheer defiance. How about some prudence? Instead, artistic centers just get swiped out of existence. He views the whole conflict as "performance art". Alright. It still means the destruction of an art center that had so much potential.
posted by stroke_count at 10:18 AM on January 12, 2011


especially if their art doesn't contain a strong political element.

stroke_count, do you think Ai Weiwei's art doesn't contain a strong political element?
posted by dubold at 10:40 AM on January 12, 2011


Most of his art isn't overtly political, at least from what I've seen. His words and actions are, however, and that's how he gets into trouble.

Definitely one of the good guys, I really hope he gets out of this without another savage beating.
posted by dickasso at 11:27 AM on January 12, 2011


dickasso: "Most of his art isn't overtly political, at least from what I've seen."

What
posted by danny the boy at 11:53 AM on January 12, 2011


Sorry, I should use my words. I think pretty much all of his famous works have a political element to them. How overt, perhaps, is debatable. He consulted on the Bird's Nest for the Beijing Olympics, but later distanced himself from it, and had unkind words for Steven Spielberg, who was helping to choreograph the opening ceremony: "It's disgusting. I don't like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgment."

Sunflower Seeds, which wikipedia describes as "his comment on mass consumption, Chinese industry, famine and collective work."

And the direct action which led to his studio being demolished, "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." - from a Guardian article.

I don't think you can separate his political from his creative, is what I'm saying.
posted by danny the boy at 12:13 PM on January 12, 2011


Part of me regrets the fact that some of these artists can't swallow their pride and try a little harder to maneuver within the confines of their nation's political culture to induce change,

I understand what you are saying but I think you are wrong. He has a very tall, well amplified soap-box. He is using it as a thinking, conscientious artist (their number are not legion) must.

They/he can build another art center. He is saying what he believes needs to be said - more power to him, and then more power. If no one says anything...
posted by From Bklyn at 12:24 PM on January 12, 2011


How about some prudence?

Like Zhang "I'll sell out for money and fame" Yimou? No thanks. I'll take Ai Weiwei over Zhang Yimou any day.
posted by kmz at 12:27 PM on January 12, 2011


An art center that only allows politically sanctioned art isn't an art center anymore. At best it's a propaganda machine, a nationalist glory factory. At worst it's a tool for controlling or marginalizing artists who are too edgy ("Nice studio you got there! Shame if something... happened to it"), or who can't afford to work in the official art district ("You can't make art here! We have an art district for this sort of thing"). Dashanzi, the most famous officially-sanctioned Chinese art district, is home now to little more than marketing companies, fancy restaurants, and coffee shops, with a smattering of politically safe galleries. It's a Chinese art theme park. (disclaimer: i haven't been to dashanzi in a few years and if it has gotten less sucky in the meantime i'd love to hear it, the space is awesome and i always thought it was a tragic waste)

The correct response to the politicization of studio space is to politicize it right back, as Mr. Ai is doing. Make it noisy, make it public, make it an object lesson in government hypocrisy. It's not to sit down, shut up, play along, and help the Shanghai authorities build themselves a propaganda victory.
posted by zjacreman at 1:58 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


General rule: if government finds artists dangerous for doing art, government is profoundly frightened and concerned for their own legitimacy.

Leo Trotsky, I find it odd you'd be stirring the pot like this considering what happened last time.
posted by Hoopo at 2:31 PM on January 12, 2011


I just feel in my bones Hoopo, that Ai Weiwei and Hu Jintao would find that amusing.
posted by clavdivs at 10:26 PM on January 12, 2011


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