Probably China’s most famous, and certainly most politically vocal artist, Ai Weiwei has been detained by Beijing Police in an effort to prevent and event this weekend at the artists Shanghai studio space. The event was a party in protest of the governments orders to demolish the artists studio space.
“Tensions between the artist and the Chinese government have increased steadily over the past several years. Ai presented the results of an investigation into deaths related to the 2008 earthquake in the Sichuan province in the form of a major art exhibition at the historically-weighted Haus der Kunst, Munich, in 2009. He also participated in the design of the Bird’s Nest Stadium for to the 2008 Beijing Olympics – an event he subsequently condemned as politically-manipulated by the Chinese government. The iconography of his current installation in Tate Modern‘s Turbine Hall, comprised of more than one million hand-painted sunflower seeds produced in Jingdezhen, China, also addresses his nation’s political history, censorship, and problematic ideologies of labor.
According to Art Forum, Ai believes that “the decision to prevent him from attending the party was indicative of the Chinese government’s inability to tolerate dissent or debate.” Regardless of the outcome of the event itself, its prevention and the institutional and social-media dialogue surrounding it have provided a highly-visible means of engaging an international community on the role of art in censorship and the problematics of political transparency in the artist’s home country.” – Art Observed.