‘If artists betray the social conscience and the basic principles of being human, where does art stand then?’ Ai Weiwei (2011)

I’m working on an idea at the moment, to seek an interview with noted Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei. So far, I’ve floated the idea with friends, including a former and very enlightened media employer. Some of the things that may need to happen next are:

  • contact friends in HK, both lawyers, to ask if they can research and ascertain or establish the legal status of Ai Weiwei – he was detained by Chinese authorities and imprisoned while trying to board a flight from Beijing to HK in April of this year, ideally en route to the sunflower seed installation in London’s Tate Modern. Subsequently released, but under very tight supervision
  • also ask them to id restrictions or government imposed control/censorship/limitation of his ability to exercise his right to free speech
  • then highlight the implications of their findings on the above: what does this mean for him as a a human being, an artist, a parent?
  • What does the Ai Weiwei scenario actually mean or tell us about freedom of expression in the China of the now: it would be a bit like being unable or barred from speaking with John Lennon at his creative peaks – what a crime that would have been. Is silence mandated – clipping the wings of modern China’s visionary, ceative genius
  • What effect is this having on other Chinese artists and cultural expression generally?
  • Does the new China legalise high-end consumersism on the one hand, and criminalise art on the other?
  • China has such a massive, massive population that’s becoming urbanised and consumerised at lightening pace – what use is the snazzy car if there’s no freedom of expression permitted?
Off on another tangent, but one still related to press freedom, the above reinforces that media should do more to investigate & report/publish the actual situations of actual people (like Ai Weiwei), their facility or means to effectively communicate their predicament? It’s going to be interesting to continue this journey and establish the artist’s current situation. Time for a bit more digging….