Thursday, April 07, 2011

Ai Weiwei

As I've noted here before, I strongly believe the surest way to turn a revolutionary pest into a compliant pet is to give him/her just enough money to make them bourgeois.

Likewise the surest way to turn the people against someone they otherwise admire is to insinuate that person is taking advantage and unjustly dipping into the people's pockets. We've seen this in America with the positively absurdist right-wing rhetoric against public servants (don't look at the banks' record profits or those multinational tax-dodgers who claim they'd create more jobs here if the US corporate taxes were lower [meaning so they got billions more in tax rebates than they already do], no...all your economic woes stem from those greedy middle-class teachers).

In short, if you want the public to turn against someone, suggest that person is unfairly costing the public money. And so, we have out of China today, news that the government there is charging Ai Weiwei with "economic crimes:"

“To my understanding, Ai Weiwei is suspected of economic crimes, and the Public Security Bureau is conducting an investigation according to law,” Hong Lei, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a regular news conference in Beijing. “China is a country under the rule of law, and relevant authorities will work according to law.”

Mr. Hong did not give further details, and he did not say why the authorities had yet to notify Mr. Ai’s family members of the detention. His remarks followed a cryptic one-line report that was posted on the Internet by Xinhua, the state news agency, around midnight that said the same thing. The report was deleted hours later from the Chinese and English Web sites of Xinhua, deepening the mystery around Mr. Ai’s detention. The government has convicted citizens of financial fraud before when trying to silence them.

What's particularly insidious here is that it seems the Chinese government is clearly shopping around for the "crime" most suited to their twin goals: Ai Weiwei's silence and international breathing space:
Mr. Ai’s mother, Gao Ying, 78, denounced the government line in a telephone interview, saying: “Economic crimes! They say one thing now and another later. It’s ridiculous.” [...]

Mr. Ai’s case is the most prominent one to pit the Communist Party against liberal Chinese and Western nations since that of Liu Xiaobo, the dissident writer who was sentenced to 11 years in prison here and awarded a Nobel Peace Prize last October. In response to calls by Western governments for China to release Mr. Ai immediately, Mr. Hong said Thursday, “Other countries have no right to interfere.”
Perhaps other countries have no power to interfere, but as China is asking to be taken seriously as an equal contributor to the dialog of contemporary art, the rest of the world has every right to demand some answers. It's entirely ludicrous that China would arrest Ai Weiwei on apparently trumped up charges and yet expect a place at the table as respected members of the international arts community. China needs to release Mr. Ai now.

Labels: ai weiwei, Art and politics, politics


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ai will end up being the subject for some future Schnabel film I'm sure. Ai always comes to mind, when people deny that art is fundamantally about freedom and expression. The only reason any art exists is becasue of impulse and desire. Intenitions and motivatiuons may differ, but all art is ultimately an excercise in free expression made evident through the spectrum of culture.
Ai is by far the most relevant artist today regardless of what anyone says about his actual work.
“Everything is art. Everything is politics. You can call it art or non-art, I don’t give a damn"
-Ai Weiwei

4/07/2011 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mao said...

Two months before the police arrested him, outspoken artist Ai Wei Wei talked at length about how China really sucks. In the second part in a never-before seen interview with Ai Wei Wei, we get new insight from the courageous artist now in detention. See

4/08/2011 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 comments are you kidding me! This is the most important issue that you have posted about and it elicits prolonged silence. I was waiting for this post to explode with comments... yet I am left dumbfounded and a little enraged. Tell me something that is more importatnt than what is taking place in China with Ai Weiwei. NOTHING!

How can there not be a discussion about this or at the very least an outpouring of support for Ai. I am ashamed for all of the readers of this blog. Wake Up, educate yourself, Ai is inviting you to participate in his gratest work of art. Ai has set in motion events whcih could potetnially lead to the collapse of the world's largest violater of human rights. Not only artists, but all of humanity needs to stand up in support of Ai.

4/10/2011 04:07:00 AM  
Blogger Balhatain said...

We need to do what we can to support Ai -- but we must also be ever watchful of censorship in the US. Take for example what happened with 'A Fire in my Belly' last year.

I'm Christian-- that work did not offend me. As a Christian I'm rather tired of specific politicians who state what I, as a Christian, should be offended by-- and using my faith to cultivate criticism in order to censor others.

Art, in itself, does not have a religion, a government, or a cause. Art is a way-- and embraces a plethora of ideas. The views that can be expressed by means of artistic creation are a call for open examination. As a thinking society, so to speak, we should embrace that even if we don't agree with what is being 'said'. Lose that and we lose art. When art is censored it reveals how ignorant we have collectively become.

4/19/2011 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger . said...

I created a poster in support of Ai Weiwei. Please help spread the word. Thank you!

5/19/2011 10:44:00 AM  

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