Release Ai Weiwei Say Art Galleries in Europe 7 May 2011

Arrest of Chinese  Artist and Activist Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei was arrested two months ago as he attempted to board a plane from Beijing to Hong Kong.  He has been detained ever since, with no news reaching the outside world of his whereabouts or his safety.  The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman of China’s authoritatian government, Jiang Yu,  says  “This case is under investigation and those outside people should refrain from comment,”

I spied a wee article on the 7th May 2011 in our local New Zealand Herald, which said he would be allowed to see his family for the first time.  But no news has reached our newspapers or television which indicates how this family visit went, or whether it actually happened.

The autocratic rulers of China’s one-party state have arrested Ai Weiwei  because of his outspoken comments about the the Chinese Government.  Many other people, activists and intellectuals, have been kept imprisoned or confined to their homes  since the uprisings in the Middle East.  China has a history of arresting, torturing, or ‘disappearing’ its dissidents,  such as the Nobel Peace Prize Winner of 2010.  People have been detained for years because of their objections to lack of human rights in China.

Artists and galleries around the world are gaining momentum in protest against the arrest of Ai Weiwei.  The New Zealand Herald Saturday May 14 2011 had a good article by Ekow Eshun, a British writer.  The following information comes from Akow Eshun’s article:

Protests have been happening in hong kong, where activists have sprayed a stencil of Ai Weiwei’s likeness onto the local army garrison building.

The Art World In London has acknowledged Ai Weiwei in a very big way:  The Tate Modern gallery has put Ai Weiwei’s name at the top of the gallery. The Tate had recently brought attention to the detained artist, filling the Turbine Hall gallery with millions of Ai Weiwei’s tiny porcelain sunflower seeds.  The Tate put up a huge banner on one side of its glass roof which said:


London’s Somerset House, which hosts the biannual London Fashion Week show, is exhibiting art by Ai Weiwei. The director of Somerset House Trust, Gwyn Miles, said that Ai keeping the provocative artist in jail  “was a sign that officials there were feeling insecure’, and that a strong government ‘could take provocation”.

Another exhibition of Ai Weiwei’s work is to be seen at the Lisson gallery, in west London:  This gallery has an enormous black and white photograph of Ai Weiwei draped over the outside of the building.  This giant banner of the Chinese  artist spans two storeys.  At the bottom of the huge banner,  in red lettering, which brings to mind the Chinese communist government and Mao Tse Tung’s red book, is:

The Parisians have joined in the protest, and have dedicated a gigantic inflatable plastic amoeba called ‘Leviathan’ to the arrested Ai Weiwei.

Anish Kapoor,  a British sculptor living and working in Paris, has dedicated his most recent monumental work to the artist Ai Weiwei, who he says is “heroically recording human existence’.

In Germany, the Berlin Academy of Arts has made Ai Weiwei an honorary member as a ‘sign of his international importance’.

New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg honoured Ai at the Manhattan Pulitzer Fountain. He spoke of Ai’s ‘fearlessness in the face of official intimidation’, and the ‘indomitable desire for freedom that is inside every human being’.  One would hope that all American lovers of liberty also recognize that the rights and causes of Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, who undoubtedly also have an ‘indomitable desire for freedom’, are treated with the same passion and energy as  that of Ai Weiwei’s.


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