A row has broken out between the Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and a little known filmmaker, Jason Wishnow, over intellectual property and use of the artist’s name and image on a A 10-minute short film. The project, which has been funded through Kickstarter, depicts a future China without water. In “The Sandstorm,” Mr Ai was to play a smuggler who travels around a barren desert like China.
The blow-up occurred when the trailer showed a far more central role for the artist than was agreed at the onset of the production. The film was set to raise $30,000 but has more than doubled the original budget. It was supposed to be Ai Weiwei’s acting debut but now he is distancing himself from the project. Ai claimed he’d agreed only to a small part in the movie, not a starring role.
The campaign on the crowd-sourcing website has now been blocked from public view. Mr Ai has accused Wishnow of stealing his name and image, as well as personal photos that he had posted on Instagram as a precursor to the movie.
“We want to make it clear that Ai Weiwei does not approve of the way in which his image and involvement have been co-opted for promotional purposes,” a letter tweeted by Ai to the filmmaker, Jason Wishnow, states. This case points out how Mr Ai has morphed into a cash-cow both with his art and his name.