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Even before the current documentary about him was out in theaters, Ai Weiwei had become the poster child for China’s repression of dissenting artists. But Der Spiegel has a profile of 30-year-old Zhao Zhao, a former assistant of Ai’s and an artist in his own right who’s been facing increased pressure from the government because of his work.
Zhao was supposed to show later this year in New York with dealer Christophe Mao (presumably at Chambers Fine Art, where the artist has exhibited before) but rather than ship his work to the US, Chinese customs police instead confiscated it. One of the works consisted of deliberately broken pieces of a monumental concrete sculpture of a police officer; the number on the officer’s uniform was the date on which Ai was arrested last year.
Not only did the government confiscate Zhao’s art, however; it also slapped him with a 300,000 yuan fine (roughly $48,000) for no apparent reason. Sound familiar? Ai was charged wtih a 15 million yuan fine for “tax evasion” after his release from detention last year. Der Spiegel offers some insight into this tactic:
China’s tax laws have long been opaque, a deliberate gray zone, and now they’re being used as an instrument of arbitrary whim, and of constant intimidation. It’s said that members of China’s state police even visit the opening receptions of Chinese artists who show their work at New York galleries — or at least, says Ochs, those are the rumors one hears in Beijing.
Authorities tell Zhao that even if he pays — which he says he would like to but currently can’t afford to do — he won’t get his art back. They’ll let him see it once more, and then they’ll destroy it. Again, sound familiar? Chinese authorities demolished Ai’s brand new Shanghai studio in a day, after reportedly inviting him to build it nearly two years prior.
And let’s not forget the major Forbes article this month that exposed elaborate levels of fraud in the Chinese art market, which just earlier this year was still being lauded as the next hot spot in the global market. Forbes writer Abigail Esman quotes an art lawyer who explains that China’s major auction house, Poly Auctions, is “the auction arm of the People’s Liberation Army.” Well, isn’t that lovely? According to Esman, Poly is probably also inflating prices and manipulating sales.
All of this paints a troubling — to say the least — picture. While much of the art world, particularly in the West, exists in a self-contained bubble, but in China, it seems to be just another industry caught in the web of repressive state.
An SFMOMA exhibition raises questions about what it means when museum board members have ties to politicians who support border wall policies.
The exhibition at the Jewish Museum delves into “degenerate” art and art made under duress as part of a thought-provoking yet diffuse exhibition.
In Philadelphia, a series of solo shows delves into the interdisciplinary practices of graduates whose work explores identity, familial bonds, political constructs, and nature’s fragility.
Despite his work’s apparent abstraction, Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe insists that “I don’t invent anything, everything I do is my jungle and what is there.”
David Uzochukwu, Kennedi Carter, and Kiki Xue are among the 35 artists whose work will be displayed online and at the festival in Milan, Italy.
On November 14, join Columbia University School of the Arts for virtual information sessions with the program chair, faculty, and staff.
No Vacancy, curated by Jody Graf, will be on view from October 26 through November 8 at the school’s Kellen Gallery in New York City.
To do so before they have returned the Maqdala treasures and the Benin Bronzes and the Easter Island statues and the Maori heads, before a coherent set of precepts for decolonization has been articulated, would affirm the wrong principle.
“Everybody in Mesopotamia, as far as I understand it, believed in ghosts,” said Irving Finkel, a curator of the British Museum’s Middle Eastern department.