Category: Ai Weiwei

艺术界 LEAP 29…


Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Foucault’s passing, this issue places his thought within the context of Chinese contemporary society and urban life, beginning with biopolitics and touching upon the language of the Panopticon, networked management, artist participation in mental health programs, a wellness regime based on The History of Sexuality, and a theatrical script imagining the final moments of the theorist’s life. We use Foucault’s mirror to reflect those present and absent, both artists and viewers, and give form to microcosmic systems of biopolitics hidden within the quotidian.

Alex Israel picks and chooses from the visual and cultural resources of Los Angeles, including that famed exporter of mainstream ideology and apocalyptic imagination: Hollywood.

Charles Lim’s work ranges from the accumulation of historical objects and contemporary media to both empirical documentation and subjective narrative of the city-state’s relationship to water—everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

“Performance View” introduces Kwan Sheung Chi’s week-long durational performance The 21st Century Undead Coterie of Contemporary Art at Para Site; “Sound Check” focuses on “Zoomin’ Night,” Beijing’s most significant experimental music site; “Shop Talk” demonstrates how Xu Zhe responds to the topic of the environment with his own observations; while “Book Shelf” launches Collective Imagination Stems and FONGFO, two publications curated and edited by groups of artists. Additional content includes Bao Dong’s review on Lin Ke’s solo exhibition “LinK,” and “Zoo as Metaphor,” which blurs the boundaries of what an art exhibition can be, considering whether the metaphor of the “square” originates from pigeons or ravens.

This issue also includes 14 reviews of various exhibitions. Highlighted reviews focus on the four majorinternational exhibitions, including MANIFESTA 10, The 10th Gwangju Biennale, Yokohama Triennial 2014, and Taipei Biennial 2014. Additionally, you will also be exposed to artists and projects such as The Los Angeles Project, Countryside Poetics, Song Ling, Roger Ballen, Daniel Lee, Li Jinghu, Sterling Ruby, and Ismail Hashim.




艺术界 LEAP : 27 INTRO…’In this issue’s cover feature we see artists in rural Beijing in the mid-1990s employing queerness as means to further marginalize themselves, and with others in the past couple years, to stand out among their peers and predecessors. Yet given the paucity of queer art and artists here at home, we also look beyond these borders: Douglas Crimp walks us through the queer heyday of 1970s New York, Travis Jeppesen peers into the queer gaze of experimental film elsewhere in Asia, and Cosmin Costinas and Chantal Wong elucidate issues of sexuality in Hong Kong and their roots in race and urbanization. Finally, we examine queer art on the Mainland, only to discover that sometimes, appearances deceive. Bisecting these four articles are a peppering of artworks from Jaanus Samma, Wu Tsang, Wang Taocheng, and Trevor Yeung…

Filling out the middle section of the magazine are two features on rising young artists Qiu Xiaofei and He Xiangyu. What we see in the practice of Qiu is both a reverence for and avoidance of the past that in the present find a rational reconciliation by way of the artist’s granting greater autonomy to the canvas. He Xiangyu, meanwhile, distances himself from his previously “big” art, returning to inner reality and bringing painting, sensation, and the body together on the same plane.

In the top section of the magazine, we recount the Art Basel Hong Kong Salon “The Gift of Tongues,” wherein LEAP deputy editor-in-chief Einar Engström set out together with curators Pauline J. Yao and Anthony Yung to delineate the intersections of art and language as seen, and heard, in the practices of Chow Chun Fai and Xu Tan…’



…That was one of the biggest challenges, and truly the darkest and scariest time of the whole project. When he was detained, I knew the stakes were raised immensely. Suddenly I was at the helm of a film about someone who was missing, and we all feared a prolonged detention or more serious political charge like “incitement to subversion of state power,” which had recently landed several high-profile activists with multi-year jail terms [including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo]. Fortunately, his release allowed us to finish the film without feeling like we were in full-out crisis mode, and we could continue to work hard to tell a delicate and complex story…

Read more:

“Nationalism is a very old concept, and it has become weaker during globalisation. But from the Snowden incident, we can see that even if nationalism is weak, its power structures still exist,”

– See more at:


...I have gone through a difficult time, through a life or death situation really. I have been injured and detained, my studio was destroyed and they fabricated a sky-high tax bill for me. So I am not representing myself but a certain cause. This is about justice. It is about people who have no voice or are too shy to use it. I have become a symbolic figure for this anti-authoritarian attitude -- not just in China, but in any country that is dominated by such a political or economic power, also in the so-called free world...

Ai Weiwei in conversation with SPIEGEL, May 2013.
...Please click here to go through to piece in full...

Here at the interpretOr, we view Ai Weiwei as a courageous and decent person who fell foul of the CCP when he highlighted the tragedy of thousands of Chinese school kids dying in recent earthquakes - crushed by collapsing school buildings...

ZaoIn an interview, Chinese artist Zhao Zhao, who has a new exhibition in Berlin, discusses the state harassment he has experienced, his role as a troublemaker and why, recently, he is spending more time on his art than activism.

Of China's young artists, Zhao Zhao, 30, is one of the most provocative. For a long time, he worked together with Ai Weiwei. A new show of his work opened over the weekend at Berlin's Alexander Ochs Gallery. SPIEGEL conducted a brief interview with the artist shortly before the opening of "Zhao Zhao: Nothing Inside II".

“Threats, imprisonment, torture and even murder are used to curtail free speech, particularly that of regime critics and activists. This is particularly common in the most authoritarian countries such as China or Iran. The murder of journalists and political activists in authoritarian states remains frequent and the arrest and beating of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei changed the country’s political landscape by showing that no one, however famous or influential, was beyond the state’s reach….”           click through here to piece in full @ the Index on Censorship (UK)

“The fact Bo Xilai is being put on trial represents an attempt of damage control; it……has nothing to do with justice. In any case, the era of neo-Maoism is certainly over…”

“Life for modern artists in China is not easy. Imprisonment, hefty fines and travel bans are just some of the intimidation tactics the state police use to silence those critical of the regime. But Beijing artist Zhao Zhao, once an assistant to artist Ai Weiwei, refuses to bend to the pressure.”

click here to access the full story @ SPIEGEL online

“It is interesting to pick one’s way through the obstacles of censorship, but freedom can’t be stopped in the internet age…”

click here for Ai Weiwei’s piece in today’s Guardian

French news service AFP (Agence France Presse) are today reporting that artist Ai Weiwei has been buoyed by ‘a huge wave of solidarity’ involving 30,000 other Chinese people raising 8.5 milion Yuan to support his very fragile predicament. This is a situation whereby freedom of expression in contemporary China is the core issue.

In addition to his thought provoking and magnificent art, Ai Weiwei had investigated the needless deaths of school children who died in shonkily built schools that had collapsed in earthquakes of recent years. Icon of art became enemy of the state. Consume away, if you can, but whatever you do, don’t question…

Free AiWeiwei

“The artist has spoken out against human rights abuses in China.” (BBC)

Continue reading the main story Related Stories  Weiwei ‘does not feel powerful’ Artist Ai ‘felt close to death’ Ai Weiwei resumes China criticism” (more @ BBC News): linked on our blogroll too.

Earlier interpretOr perspectives on Ai Weiwei: semiOtic addiction…Pop Art meets the little red book

press freedOm pt 7: Aiweiwei and China

‘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….

Even though on Boket and on a mission… Keith’s memory of the newspaper ad with the famous actor flogging expensive watches still lingered. So did the bad aftertaste of the Murdochs at the Common’s Select Committee – like mean baddies from a Frank Capra movie.  Oh yeah, and the revelations of their cosy Christmas lunches with the Tory Old Etonian PM and his obsequious predecessors.

He’d stopped over on his way to Boket…Hong Kong is semiotic addiction run wild. Prada the biggest new listing on the HKEx . Seemingly obscure Swiss watch brands adorn trams and billboards with taglines referring to ‘depuis 1786’ etc. $60,000 time pieces adorn the mandarins of new China.

Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, is adept at using signs and symbols – the juxtaposition of iconic Coca Cola lettering hand painted onto a Ming like vase…the iconography of Chairman Mao jumbled by means of winged, flying Mao’s that are like abstract and faintly disturbing angels. Pop Art meets the little red book.

Hermes’ Hong Kong store front featuring the most dour, ordinary looking clothes and accessories of exorbitant cost. Value magnified by the semiotics of the context and brand. If the same items were in a different context, what then would be their value? An interesting experiment would be to do precisely this – to take the dour clothes, remove the labels and scatter the items among rows of other clothes in something like our Australian op shops. Any takers, folks?

Branding is akin to alchemy. The transformation of the mundane into that must have object of desire. Almost like we’re programmed to form more and more material attachments. Are we so lacking in identity that we need the object of desire to tell us who we are, to define our identity? The response may be, “oh but it’s harmless”;  “we all like nice things”…people should be free to… blah, blah, blah”. Fair enough, up to a point, but this shouldn’t prevent us from examining our own semiotic addictions and attachments.

The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, wrote of developmental stages from infant to ‘adult’: need, demand and finally…desire. Semiotic addiction perhaps functions in reverse.

Commercial forces are permitted to influence and ultimately alter our behaviour for commercial gain. This is the intent behind many of our semiotic addictions. Propaganda has an intrinsic motivation and intent too. It actually intends to be mind altering. Its elements can be subtle and nuanced if taken at face value, rather than from a more mindful perspective. The late 80’s Reagan era crack cocaine boom coincided with the post Carter assault of market fundamentalism – accompanied by Milton Friedman’s spooky and blinkered “Freedom to Choose” Is market fundamentalism a ‘choice’ to us, its subjects? Where is the freedom to choose in a fully compliant, conformist consumerist existence? Where is freedom to choose for the homeless, the addicted and the imprisoned?

The evidence is definitely in re the awful correlation of high $GDP and epidemic rates of depression. Social isolation viewed from virtually any econometric model is found to be as toxic as smoking 20 a day.

Anyway, back to the Kikimongulat compound….

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