Dissident Artist; “They needed an excuse to take me away for 81 days”
The Chinese authorities have given written notice to the dissident Artist Ai Weiwei to pay 15m yuan ($2.3m; £1.4m) within fifteen days. This relates to a case dating back several months which resulted in his abduction and jailing last spring. Mr Ai was held for almost three months with out access to a lawyer or his whereabouts disclosed to his family . He was than accused of “economic crimes”. He has openly volunteered to pay the money if it was proven to be a tax issue. He stated that his accountant was unable to audit the company’s books because the authorities had confiscated them.This ongoing dispute and charge has been rejected by the internationally renowned artist and he has stated that he is unsure whether he would pay. The 54-year-old told the Guardian he did not owe the money and would challenge the demand, adding: “It’s a game they play all the time. They needed an excuse to take me away for 81 days.” His supporters have said that the accusations are part of a plot to silence the artist who is an outspoken critic of the government.
Through his work Ai addresses issues pertinent to contemporary China; notably the loss of historic material culture due to rapid modernization and the effects of the global economy on traditional modes of production. His work also engages with broader themes, including perceptions of value, mass production and brand globalization, such as Coca Cola. Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing, China, where he lives and works. Solo exhibitions include Stiftung DKM, Duisburg (2010); Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland (2010); Arcadia University Gallery, Glenside (2010); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2009); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2009); Three Shadows Photography Art Center, Beijing (2009); Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Cambelltown Arts Center, Sydney (2008); Groninger Museum, Groningen (2008). Group exhibitions include the São Paulo Biennial (2010); Biennale Architecture, Venice (2008); Documenta 12, Kassel (2007) and Tate Liverpool (2007).Widely considered to be one of the most significant cultural figures of his generation in China and internationally, Ai Weiwei successfully occupies multiple roles as a conceptual artist, architect, curator, designer, film-maker, publisher and activist. Using a variety of formal languages with both traditional and innovative methods of production, Ai links the past with the present and explores the geopolitical, economic and cultural realities affecting the world with humour and compassion. Photo © ArtLyst 2011