Opinion

Ai Weiwei’s “Enforced Disappearance” for W Magazine

For their 6th annual Art Issue, W Magazine enlisted the help of dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to art direct a photo shoot entitled, “Enforced Disappearance.” Touted as “his first New York work since being released from government custody,” Weiwei collaborated on these images first by email, then by Skype, relaying his ideas and giving direction from halfway around the world.

The images — five in all — revolve around different scenes that illustrate “the conflicts between individuals and authorities — be they economic, cultural, political or religious.” Photographed by Max Vadukul, the spread has an air of autobiography, not only reflecting his previous photographs of  the Tompkins Square Park Riots in 1988, but also referencing his recent trauma, complete with arresting (pun unintended) scenarios, interrogation rooms and nude torture.

The spread is remarkably breathtaking, edgy, beautiful and disturbing. It’s a delicate mash-up of fine art from arguably one of the most famous artists right now and stereotypical fashion layouts (the model sports Alexander Wang … when she’s clothed), culminating in a conglomerate force of high and low culture.

Editor’s note: Btw, how prescient does the cover for W’s 4th Art Issue in 2009 seem nowadays?

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