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Ai Weiwei Told to Pay $2.3 Million for “Tax Evasion,” New Exhibition Opens in Taiwan

by Hrag Vartanian on November 1, 2011

A view of Ai Weiwei's new "Forever Bicycle" work in Taipei, Taiwan. (via designyoutrust.com)

After having been released on bail in June, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei received a notice on Tuesday from Chinese authorities that indicates he owes $2.3 million (15 million yuan) for “tax evasion,” according to the Associated Press and Reuters.

According to Reuters:

Ai told Reuters he received the notice from the tax authorities that described his title as the “actual controller” for Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., which has helped produce Ai’s internationally renowned art and designs.

The artist says he has been shown no evidence of tax evasion.

In characteristic Ai Weiwei fashion, the social media-savvy artist has taken to Twitter to express his discontent at the letter and the charge.

The following are some of his tweets from today (Tuesday, November 1), which have been translated into English by @aiwwenglish:

Taipei Show Opens

In related news … yesterday, an exhibition of Ai Weiwei’s art, titled Ai Weiwei Absent, opened in Taiwan, a country that is not officially recognized by the People’s Republic of China.

One mesmerizing work, “Forever Bicycle,” is comprised of 1,000 Shanghai Forever Co. bicycles, which is a state-run Chinese bike company in existence since 1940. The work has already been causing a stir of excitement on the internet. The Taipei Fine Arts Museum, where the exhibition is taking place, explains in its press materials that the works is a “layered labyrinthine space [that] creates what appears to be a moving abstract shape that symbolizes the way in which the social environment in China is changing.”

Regarding the Taiwanese show, AsiaOne News reported that:

In a written apology for his absence, Ai called it a test for his exhibition.

“It is not necessary for an artist to be present at his own exhibition,” he wrote. “An exhibition is an instance of communication through displayed objects. I don’t think my absence will in any way affect the exhibition. If it did, the need for such a absence would then become more evident,” he explained.

Ai Weiwei Absent continue at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum until January 29, 2012.

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