Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
In advance of the awarding of the Nobel Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese government severely restricted travel for a group of liberal intellectuals who they fear may have attempted to attend the ceremony. Ai Weiwei was among those banned, though the artist recently has been a magnet for political controversy himself after a planned party to celebrate a government-mandated studio demolition ended in house arrest to prevent Ai from attending. The artist’s tweets continue to provide a constant stream of updates and pay eloquent testament to Chinese political oppression.
Though Ai had been implicated as a likely attendee of Liu Xiaobo’s award ceremony, the artist says that he was planning on traveling abroad for the development of one of his art exhibitions. MSNBC reports that “Ai was waiting to board a flight for Seoul, where he was to take part in a conference.” Ai says that police “showed me a handwritten note that said my departure would endanger state security,” and was prevented from leaving. Many other prominent Chinese voices including lawyers, economists and writers have likewise been banned.
Yet Ai has a different level of security around him. The best source for updates on the artist’s status is his Twitter, which is still active despite the government’s reported cutting of Ai’s internet access. Courtesy of Ai Weiwei English, a Tumblr and Twitter account that translates Ai’s tweets, check out the following updates:
On Thursday Dec 9, Ai wrote on the status of his house arrest:
The surveillance vans without plates are stopping at their original positions outside the door again, two young people are playing with their cell phones inside.
He followed that up with the news that his telephone and internet connection has been cut:
House arrest, travel restrictions, surveillance, stopping phone service, cutting internet connection, what we can still do is to greet the crazy motherland once again.
In a chilling note, Ai says while he can’t receive calls, he can still make calls to allow the government to track his location:
Telephone reception has been stopped, but I can still make outgoing calls, as they need to wiretap and follow my position.
The New York Times reports that the Nobel Prize winner’s chair remained empty for Liu Xiaobo and that the ceremony audience was empty of the Chinese nationals that had been banned. Though ex-pat Chinese dissidents did attend, pressure from the Chinese government also precipitated an absence of envoys from 16 countries invited to the ceremony.
To me, it looks like Chinese political pressure is coming to a head for Ai and his time living with any freedom in the country may be coming to an end. Considering events of the last year, it would doubtless be safer for Ai to leave China. The artist is still fiercely loyal to the people of his country, but, he wrote on Twitter, “An advice for young people, don’t love a person or a country which you cannot freely choose to leave.”
The city brought shows to life that will be talked about for years to come.
Our favorite LA shows of 2021, brought to you by the writers and editors of Hyperallergic.
On view in Abu Dhabi until February 5, 2022, the paintings and sculptures in Modernisms shed new light on artists like Parviz Tanavoli, Fahrelnissa Zeid, and M.F. Husain.
Full Spectrum spans 40 years of the artist’s career and provides an efficient crash course for anyone new to Edmonds’s work.
A show at the Prado valorizes cross-cultural flows while muffling ruptures, and two contemporary art exhibitions critique Hispanic legacies to investigate how art history occludes power.
SMFA at Tufts is seeking applications for at least four full-time Professor of the Practice positions in Sound/Sound Installation, Ceramics, Sculpture, and Drawing.
International Court of Justice Rules Azerbaijan Must Stop Destroying Armenian Cultural Heritage in Artsakh
The ruling points to major implications for protection of all cultural heritage during peacetime.
Afghan refugee Amin didn’t feel comfortable telling director Jonas Poher Rasmussen his story without a way to conceal his identity. Rasmussen explains the process to Hyperallergic.
Yemen Blues brings their sonic blend of Yemenite, West African, and Jazz back to Joe’s Pub in New York City this December, featuring opener Ahmed Alshaiba.
Now that’s change.
Michael Steinhardt was in possession of over 180 objects smuggled from 11 nations by “crime bosses, money launderers and tomb raiders.”
“Jobless, futureless, in constant fear of arrest and death at the hands of the Taliban, we do not live but merely exist,” says an open letter published by Artists at Risk.