This weekend, the usually free National Gallery of Art might not be. In fact, it could not be open at all. With the possibility of a government shutdown looming as a result of disagreements between Democrats and Republicans over the national budget, public museums may be the first institutions to close their doors at the end of this week.
Today Hyperallergic is launching Ai Weiwei Watch, a permanent liveblog of the events and issues surrounding Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s arrest. Our initial two liveblogs covered the artist’s detainment and early news, but the controversy has gone international, provoking diplomatic reactions from France, Germany and the US, statements released by major artists and uncountable words of commentary online and in print. This post will collect any and all news, including translations from Chinese sources. Photos are also being published from inside Ai’s studio, post-arrest. Check them out below.
The latest: Ai is being charged with “economic crimes,” and even though the government argues “the law won’t bend” for Ai, his detainment is actually illegal under Chinese law.
With the release of a brand new iPad application, the Museum of Modern Art forays into the territory of digital publishing. The free application is a smooth way to buy the digital versions of MoMA’s exhibition catalogues, but the app also presents several advantages over simply buying PDF versions of the books. An elegant interface plus a visual shopping center make the MoMA app an easy place to access digital versions of some of the best catalogues around, though no real value is added to the digital versions save perhaps the ability to zoom in with your fingers. (Don’t we have monocles to do that for print, or something?) Also included in the app are free samples of the catalogues presently up for purchase.
Though he is the most visible victim, artist Ai Weiwei’s arrest is only one symptom of a greater crackdown on free expression in China that has been deemed the “Big Chill.” Other victims detained and arrested include writers, lawyers and Chinese cultural figures.
Sometimes art criticism gets physical. According to reports from the Washington Post, a woman attempted to grab Gauguin’s “Two Tahitian Women” (1899) painting off the wall of DC’s National Gallery, screaming “this is evil” and pounding at the painting’s plastic covering with her fists. Talk about seeing red.
On Sunday morning Beijing time, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was arrested and detained at the airport on his way to Hong Kong. We haven’t heard from the artist since. Ai’s studio remains occupied by police forces though the larger neighborhood of Caochangdi is unaffected at present. Studio assistants, including foreigners, are being questioned by the police. This post will be live updated with news.
Approximately 14 hours ago just before a planned flight to Hong Kong, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been arrested and detained at the Beijing airport. 10 hours ago, police raided Ai’s studio on the outskirts of Beijing. Ai’s status is now unknown: his phone is off, and power has been cut to the studio.
The egotistical Hawass is baaaack! Less than a month after leaving his post as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities due to revolution fallout, Zahi Hawass has returned to the job.
Beyond a rising death toll of over 10,800, the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan has also damaged a current total of 353 Japanese cultural landmarks, including temples, historic sites and iconic landscapes called “places of scenic beauty.” The Matsushima area, north of Sendai, is among the worst hit in terms of cultural damage. Sites damaged include Matsushima’s Zuigan-ji Temple, a Buddhist temple complex founded in 828 whose walls were cracked in the earthquake, as well as 3 other National Treasures.
At only 40 years old, Japan Society’s low-slung modernist headquarters at 333 East 47th Street has just been named New York’s youngest landmark building by the state’s Landmark Preservation Commission. The structure, designed by Junzo Yoshimura and George G. Shimamoto and first completed in 1971, translates traditional Japanese architectural forms into a modernist idiom, bowing to neither but combining the two languages in an innovative and complex way. I spoke with Japan Society vice president Joe Earle about the landmark designation and his experience of the building itself.
The result of a lawsuit levied against Richard Prince’s “Canal Zone” series of photos has determined that the artist may be forced to destroy the works, as they violate copyright laws protecting the series of photographs appropriated by Prince, “Yes Rasta” by French photographer Patrick Cariou. In the end, what happens to Prince’s work is up to Cariou. The court case revolved around whether or not Prince’s alterations of the Cariou’s photos constituted total transformations of the originals, and thus protected under fair use laws. The answer handed down by the court was that Prince’s works didn’t count as fair use of the images — in a word, Prince’s works were too derivative.
Last week, we reported on the growing concern in the visual art and human rights communities about the treatment of workers at the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim project, and this week two Guggenheim leaders have written directly to two prominent artists who signed the petition.