Monday, April 2, 2012

Weiwei Still Getting Whacked

Back in November I did post here about the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in which I urged readers to make origami birds out of money and toss them over the wall of his house in Beijing to help him pay for the privilege of contesting a "tax evasion" penalty of 15 million yuan ($2.4 million). While I doubt I have any readership in China, it did feel good to support, in some small way, a protest against tyranny and injustice.

And Weiwei did manage to collect the equivalent of $1.3 million from 30,000 supporters, without which, it has been said, his wife would have been jailed.

Last week The Authorities denied a request by Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. (Weiwei's company, registered in his wife's name) for a public trial to contest the penalty, instead offering him a written hearing — whatever that is.

While Weiwei gets lots of exposure in the rest of the world — a new film by freelance journalist Alison Klayman "Ai Weiwei, Never Sorry" will open in New York this summer — in China, I fear, mostly everything on the internet by or about him gets scrubbed clean.

If you click on his website Fake, you get an image of a fly. Click on "Works" and you get three images of mostly noncontroversial, non-subversive works of his. Click on "Editorial" and you get — nothing. Indeed, there is nothing here. He is being eviscerated, wiped off the record in China.

I tried entering the Chinese characters of his name — maybe I made a mistake, but I don't think so — again, nothing. His blog, which was shut down in 2009 by guess who?, can only still be accessed in book form, available from MIT Press: Writing, Interviews, and Digital Rants 2006-2009.

At least we have that.

Update 2/19/2016: I don't know if the situation for Weiwei in China has changed, but here in the U.S., the website Artsy has a dedicated Ai Weiwei page which includes his bio, pictures of over 120 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date exhibition listings. 

You may also want to follow Ai Weiwei on Instagram @aiww where he has been chronicling the plight of refugees coming into Greece by boat.

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