The Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei – who has recently been sparring with the Chinese UK ambassador over the artist’s alleged tax evasion, and the quality of his work – has received a visa to stay in Germany for three years and will take up a teaching post at a Berlin university, the artist’s spokeswoman confirmed today.
Ai has been a frequent critic of the Chinese government’s policies. The artist’s work has often explored the limits placed on the right of people in China to express themselves, as well as the political tone in China, and has recently focused on his personal experience of incarceration which the artist is currently highlighting at his Royal Academy retrospective with the work S.A.C.R.E.D.
This is a period in the artist’s battle with the Chinese authorities that Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom says never took place – during an interview with the BBC. Xiaoming told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that he believed the artist had only reached such a high level of fame because of his ongoing criticism of the Chinese government, and that the artist was never incarcerated for his alleged tax evasion.
In fact Ai was detained in 2011 for 81 days without charge. A company the artist founded was later convicted of tax evasion by the Chinese authorities. Ai was finally released on one year’s probation in June 2011, but the government retained his passport – which it recently returned prior to his survey at the Royal Academy of Arts.
The artist posted a picture of his new visa, which runs until October 2018, on the Instagram social media outlet. The artist will now start teaching as a guest professor at Berlin’s University of the Arts, said his spokeswoman. “The university position will be for three years and during this period he will spend a lot of his time in Germany,” she said.
Photo: P A Black © 2015