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A photo from the demolition of Ai Weiwei’s Shanghai studio (photo from shanghaiist.com)

In Fall of 2010, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was requested by city officials to vacate his newly built Shanghai studio so that it could be demolished. The weird thing is that the Shanghai government were the ones to ask Ai to build the studio. Following a blow-out demolition party on November 7 that Ai couldn’t attend (he was under house arrest), the studio has been emptied and demolished.

  • Pictures are all that remain of the Ai’s Shanghai studio complex, but the photos of the demolition itself are particularly powerful. China’s Global Times reports that the demolition began on Tuesday morning and was complete by Wednesday night. “The demolition notice was issued on October 19,” Global Times writes, “and it said the studio failed to follow proper application procedures.”
  • Flickr user Duyanpili has a photostream documenting the destruction of the studio, including pictures of the demolition crew.
  • Shanghaiist has another set of photos of the demolition, and notes that Ai suspects that the destruction of the studio was a direct result of his political activities.
  • The New York Times has an extensive report on the studio’s destruction in which Ai adds that a neighboring studio the artist had designed for a friend was also demolished. Demolition of the studio also began without Ai’s knowing; government officials had earlier agreed not to destroy the structure before the Chinese New Year in February.
  • The Art Newspaper notes that controversy shows no signs up letting up for Ai Weiwei, with the artist planning an exhibition in October of 2011 at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taiwan.

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

7 replies on “Ai Weiwei’s Shanghai Studio Now Demolished”

  1. Typical anti-China media slant. Check Baidu, China’s Google, for the real story:

    – The township that solicited Ai Weiei for the village studio project neglected to arrange for proper building permit.

    – On July 23, 2009, Ai Weiei was notified of lack of permit by Shanghai City, but construction continued.

    – The official initiated the project tried to save the building. They offered to compensate Ai in exchange for the building to be donated to the village collective, in order to qualify for public project exemption, but Ai Weiei refused.

    – After over a year, Shanghai City finally issued the demolition order.

    Should prominent artist be allowed to ignore the law and erect illegal building?

    Search for an article titled “艾未未工作室被拆记” and put it thru a translator.

      1. OMG, you’re right. We should look to Chinese news sources that are under the vice grip of the autocratic government for the “official” story. Give me a break.

    1. Caijing is a great source, but I still find it funny that the Shanghai city government (the mayor personally went to Beijing) made the initial efforts to ask Ai Weiwei to build the studio, and you note that the same government body were the ones to notify them of a lack of permit.

  2. The mayor of Shanghai did not go to Beijing. This was created by our media in order to sensationlize this story. Had they fact checked they would’ve known, as it was widely reported by Chinese meda in general back in November.

    Construction of the studio was not at the invitation of the Shanghai city government, but by Jiading District official Sun Jiwei (嘉定区区长孙继伟) as part of a new village construction within Malu township (马陆镇大裕村新农村建).

    Such sensationalism to me serves no purpose other than to demonize China. As a minority citizen the effect I’ve witnessed is our media’s contribution towards America’s resurging anti-Chinese sentiment.

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