Featured Artist: Ai WeiWei

Featured Artist: Ai WeiWei
June 23, 2011 Leslie Juvin-Acker

The artist, creator, and human rights activitist Ai Weiwei was released from a Chinese jail today after three months of incarceration upon confessing to ‘tax evasion’.

Ironically, while Ai Weiwei was jailed for tax evasion, Chinese authorities were cracking down on a dozen other activists with a history of exposing China’s human rights offenses. Weiwei was said by authorities to have evaded taxation by destroying accounting records, but during incarceration agreed to paying back taxes. The location of the other activists is unknown at this time.

Weiwei’s release so just happens to occur as Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, makes his visit to the UK, whose art world adores the activist’s work and installation, Sunflower Seeds, was displayed at the Tate Modern. China says they are not intimidated by other countries and that his release is simply a coincidence.

Sunflower Seeds Exhibit at the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall

Weiwei is a famous and accomplished artist in his own right, but he is notoriously known by the Chinese government as critical of the communist regime and its corruptions and human rights offenses. Weiwei has been a threat to the Chinese government for inciting social unrest for nearly two decades. Despite his open opposition to the government, China hired him to co-design the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Beijing olympics.

Enjoy an hour to learn more about Ai Weiwei in this documentary produced by the BBC, called Ai Weiwei, Without Fear or Favor. The film will take you into the artist’s life, background, and struggle to help the Chinese people demand basic human rights through his art and activism.

Check out TED’s feature on Ai Weiwei’s detention.

News sources: Guardian UK, Daily Mail UK

Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons

News sources: Guardian UK, Daily Mail UK

Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons

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