News / Asia

Artist Ai Weiwei Shares Hopes, Concerns for China

Works by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei are displayed October 2, 2012 at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.
Works by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei are displayed October 2, 2012 at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.
William Ide
An exhibit for outspoken Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei opened in Washington this week, but it is unclear whether he will be able to attend the important retrospective of his works.  Authorities in China have stripped him of his passport and he is under close surveilance. 

These days, Ai Weiwei's name seems to be coming up everywhere.  Everywhere that is, except China.

Related story by Mariama Diallo


Overseas, his art and activism are the focus of a documentary about his life Ai Weiwei, Never Sorry, and the first U.S. survey of his work went on display Sunday at the Hirshhorn Museum, in Washington D.C.


In China, it is almost as if he does not exist.

“Even my name cannot be mentioned in China," lamented the artist. "I have such a big tax case and yet there is no mention of the case in any articles, not even a sentence discussing the case.  This is not normal, this is very abnormal, but it seems like such unnatural phenomenon are increasing.

Tax evasion charges

Last year, authorities charged him with tax evasion after detaining him without charges for nearly three months.

Chinese authorities deny Ai's detention was politically motivated, and recently rejected his second and final appeal to the tax evasion charges he and his supporters say are retaliation for his outspoken activism.

“All we can say is that there is a widespread feeling of impotence [in China], a lack of sense of responsibility and a feeling of despair because as a citizen and as an individual when you feel cut off from justice and fairness, and you do not think that you can be of help to others, and you do not think that other people's suffering or happiness has anything to do with you, this is a horrifying society,” Ai said.

A work by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is displayed October 2, 2012 at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.
A work by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is displayed October 2, 2012 at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.
Chinese authorities have stripped him of his passport, making it impossible for him to travel to the exhibit in the United States.

“Why they do not give me my passport or why they do not let me go abroad is unclear.  All I know is that they have said that they will definitely give it to me, and it is just a matter of time," Ai said.  "So I hope that in the next few months they will give it to me.”

Daily life

Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei
For now, he can travel around the country, which he says he does at times.  And while visitors to his studio come and go, his minders are always not far behind and close at hand.  The street outside his studio in Beijing is lined with surveillance cameras, one aimed straight at its front door.

Ai is best known for helping to design the main stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Bird's Nest.  But his activism has drawn increasing attention, and at times international concern when he has gotten into trouble with authorities.

Ai became increasingly critical of the Chinese government following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, when he took up the cause of the thousands of children who were killed when their shoddily built schools collapsed.

Troublemaker

Despite the attention authorities give him, he says there is really nothing special about what he does.

“The police say to me, 'Ai Weiwei, you talk to much, you have got a bad mouth.'  I think that while most people do not ask questions, or they are not willing, or they do not dare or they do not want to ask questions, or even do not think that there is a problem at all, I will speak my mind," he said.  "As an artist or even just someone who cares about society, I think that what I do is very basic.  There is really nothing special about what I do."

Ai says his comments may sometimes be critical of national issues or politics, but they are just his own opinions and really nothing a nation should fear.  If it does, he adds, that is only a sign of the nation's weakness.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rupali from: muccWCMaZ
October 24, 2012 11:20 AM
I was so confused about what to buy, but this makes it undesrntadable.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid