I often don’t use this as my platform to assert my political standings nor what I believe in politically. That’s what Twitter is for and definitely what real-life conversation is all for. However I am about to make an exception to this rule. If you are going to get bored than stop reading here. As many of you know I was art-school trained. My initial creative ‘adult’ years were spent in a hub of politically, socially, artistically and culturally radical art production. Names such as Kazimir Malevich, Elsa Schiaparelli, Judy Chicago and Jean-Michel Basquiat were thrown around like they were everyday lexicon. Art school reinforced to me that art could be political. That it could embarrass tyrannical governments, shame social prejudice and ultimately, lead to change.
Ai Wei Wei was one of the many names that became ingrained in my ‘artistic’ consciousness. Artist – activist – filmmaker – ‘dissident’. Ai is known for his installations, photographs and conceptual works that altered readymade objects. His most famed perhaps being Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995) and Coca-Cola Vase (1997) where he defaced ancient Chinese artifacts to create a dialogue between ancient and contemporary Chinese culture, art history, ceramics and craft. His ‘notoriety’ however is derived from his dissent towards the Chinese government – where he has shamed and investigated into the corruption of the CCP. Noted are his Sichuan earthquake student casualties investigation, his later denouncement of the ‘Bird’s Nest’ and his Shanghai studio controversy.
Currently Ai Wei Wei is under the arrest of the CCP. On the 3rd of April 2011 he was arrested just before a flight leaving for Hong Kong. Circumstances are still unclear as to whether or not he will be released. This is the reason why I am writing – the suppression of artists has no place in our contemporary era and it never will. I amongst many others are demanding the release of Ai Wei Wei – one of China’s most significant cultural figures.
Images credited to Daily Serving.com and Ai Wei Wei