Ai Weiwei
Chinese artist
Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist, active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticism. Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government's stance on democracy and human rights.
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Chinese artist, activist Ai Weiwei exhibit to visit Michigan
Yahoo News - about 1 month
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — An art exhibition by famed Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei will soon open in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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Yahoo News article
Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei finds home too dangerous, but he may go to Syria
LATimes - 2 months
It speaks volumes about the plight of rabble-rousers in China today that Ai Weiwei, the country’s most famous dissident artist, has decided that working there is too dangerous — so he wants to go to Syria. Ai, who received his passport back from Chinese authorities last year, is turning his attention...
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LATimes article
Stroll in the Park With Ai Weiwei
NYTimes - 3 months
Ai Weiwei, the acclaimed Chinese artist, takes us on a walk through his old stomping ground in Tompkins Square Park. Four exhibitions of his work are currently in New York.
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NYTimes article
What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week
NYTimes - 3 months
Four Ai Weiwei shows; Rob Pruitt’s Obama portraits; Michele Abeles exploring where sculpture begins; and Paul Pfeiffer deconstructs professional boxing.
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NYTimes article
What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week
NYTimes - 3 months
Four Ai Weiwei shows; Rob Pruitt’s Obama portraits; Michele Abele exploring where sculpture begins; and Paul Pfeiffer deconstructs professional boxing.
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NYTimes article
On Jan Fabre, part 3: Magicians and Scientists
Huffington Post - 3 months
At long last, we are ready to discuss Jan Fabre himself. Along with the other journalists who went to Saint Petersburg, I was invited to dinner and a chat with Fabre. He ordered pasta and meticulously pre-cut it into such little pieces that he could wolf it down without looking at it or, seemingly, thinking about it or tasting it. Nearing 60, he has frosted blond hair, the face of a hawk, the build of a pugilist, and a tremendous amount of jittery energy. Jan Fabre at the opening of Knight of Despair/Warrior of Beauty, State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg As an artist with one foot, and sometimes two, in the conceptual mode, it is not always necessary to look at Fabre's work in person or even in reproduction in order to grasp the essentials. His actual artwork often serves merely to instantiate in physical form the important thing about it - the idea. Let me demonstrate. When I spoke with him, he told me about his idea of the horizontal body. The vertical body, in his system ...
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Huffington Post article
Dear Artists: We Need You More Than Ever
Huffington Post - 4 months
On the night of Nov. 8, I was preparing to write about Artists for Hillary, the group recruited by HRC’s campaign to use art to advocate for and eventually celebrate America’s first female president. Among them are artists Jenny Holzer, Carrie Mae Weems and Maya Lin. I was planning on having the piece ready for the historic day I thought was ahead of us. But when the election results began to roll in, I stopped preparing the piece and started realizing that the outcome many, many people had anticipated ― a clear and swift win for Hillary Clinton ― was not to be. I work for a media outlet that has been anything but silent on its position toward Donald Trump ― we had not-so-subtly attached an editor’s note to each and every story about the GOP pick, denouncing his racism, misogyny and xenophobia. When, in the early hours of Nov. 9, it became apparent that he would indeed capture the electoral vote, I found myself at a loss for words. I, like so many people, went home tired, defea ...
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Huffington Post article
Art Exhibitions To See Around NYC, Fall 2016
Huffington Post - 4 months
--Article Originally Published for CityLately.com, Hop On For More Art News -- Oh baby it's cold outside - it's time to start looking for things to do inside. This fall, New York has several must-see art exhibtions to boast; From Ai Weiwei's return to the city where through December he will be presenting 4 simultaneous shows around town, to the grandsons of Calder and Picasso partnering on an exhibition, there is plenty to keep you preoccupied from lamenting the passing of the seasons. -@NanaMeriwether Must-See Exhibitions Around Town, Fall 2016 Ai Weiwei 2016: Roots and Branches Lisson Gallery (504 W 24th st) (Photo Courtesy of Artnet) Ai Weiwei's first solo show with Lisson Gallery is set to open on November 5 and will feature massive tree trunks and iron sculptures. The seven sculptures together form a forest by the Highline to help "reveal the artist's interest in tradition and contemporaneity as well as the prevalence of displacement in post-modern ...
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Huffington Post article
2016 Art Innovator: Ai Weiwei
Wall Street Journal - 4 months
Ai Weiwei does not have a signature style, but instead works across mediums, and has become one of the world's most influential and prolific contemporary artists. A film by MediaStorm (Full Version)
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Wall Street Journal article
Artist paints with algae to highlight China's toxic waters
Yahoo News - 4 months
SHENZHEN, Guangdong — Last month, Chinese artist Gu Wenda led 1,500 schoolchildren in Shenzhen to paint 1,500 square meters of rice paper with algae water. In a modern riff of traditional “qinglu shanshui” landscape painting — especially popular in the Qing and Ming dynasties — the project aimed to highlight China’s toxic algae blooms. The artist with the kids. Image: GU WENDA SEE ALSO: After China, a Canadian company plans to sell India bottled air from the Rocky Mountains China has struggled with algae blooms for the past decade. Caused by industrial run-off, they have severely compromised the health of the lakes and rivers and the people who depend on these bodies of water. In some cases, people have been left without drinking water for days. Just this summer, Qingdao, a port city in eastern Shandong, experienced an algae invasion of over 58,000 hectares. According to a 2014 report, 28 percent of rivers are so toxic that they aren’t even suitable for agricultural use. Thirty-eight o ...
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Yahoo News article
Inside Art: Ai Weiwei Melds Art and Activism in Shows About Displacement
NYTimes - 4 months
The activist Chinese artist has documented the struggles of migrants around the world, and now his work will be shown at three New York galleries.
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NYTimes article
Adelina von Fürstenberg and ART for the World Remember Stolen Lives and Legacies
Huffington Post - 5 months
Stories on Human Rights, trailer, 2008, created and produced by ART for The World. Made in observance of the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 22 three-minute films were made by some of the world's most prominent filmmakers, artists, and writers and compiled in one feature-length film with music by Michael Galasso. Read more about the film on the ART for the World website. For the past 20 years Adelina von Fürstenberg has been curating international exhibitions and screenings attended by the world leaders of democracy and totalitarian dictators alike. Associated with the United Nations Department of Information, ART for the World, a non-governmental organization (NGO) for the arts, was founded by Fürstenberg in 1995, when United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali came to the then-director of the Centre d'Art Contemporain de Genéve with the request for her to honor the founding of the United Nations with a fiftieth anniversary exhibition. ...
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Huffington Post article
Ai Weiwei on China's legal system
CNN - 5 months
Xia Lin and I met in 2010.
Article Link:
CNN article
Ai Weiwei: Xia Lin verdict exposes the unfairness of China's legal system
CNN - 5 months
Chinese lawyer Xia Lin was found guilty of almost 10 million yuan in fraud, deprived of his political rights, fined 120,000 yuan and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Article Link:
CNN article
Chinese Court Sentences Ai Weiwei’s Lawyer to 12 Years for Fraud
NYTimes - 5 months
Xia Lin, a Beijing rights lawyer, called the case part of China’s campaign to silence lawyers who have challenged arbitrary state power.
Article Link:
NYTimes article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Ai Weiwei
    FIFTIES
  • 2015
    Age 57
    In July 2015, he was given a passport and may travel abroad.
    More Details Hide Details In June 2011, the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau demanded a total of over 12 million yuan (US$1.85 million) from Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd in unpaid taxes and fines, and accorded three days to appeal the demand in writing. According to Ai's wife, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd has hired two Beijing lawyers as defense attorneys. Ai's family state that Ai is "neither the chief executive nor the legal representative of the design company, which is registered in his wife's name."
    Until 2015, he remained under heavy surveillance and restrictions of movement, but continues to criticize through his work.
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    2015 On 21 May 2015, Ai, along with the folk singer Joan Baez, received Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award, in Berlin, for showing exceptional leadership in the fight for human rights, through his life and work.
    More Details Hide Details The artist, who was at the time under surveillance and forbidden from leaving China, could not take part in the ceremony. His son Ai Lao accepted the prize on behalf of his father, called on the stage by Tate Modern director, Chris Dercon, who also spoke on behalf of the Chinese activist. Ai Weiwei wanted to pay tribute to those people in worse conditions than him, including civil rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang who faces eight years in prison, imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize-winning poet Liu Xiaobo, journalist Gao Yu, women's rights activist Su Changlan, activist Liu Ping and academic Ilham Tohti.
    Ai Weiwei came top of London’s paid exhibitions list in 2015 with 4,335 visitors a day at the Royal Academy of Arts.
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  • 2013
    Age 55
    His guest-edit in the 18 October issue of The New Statesman has won an Amnesty Media Award in June 2013.
    More Details Hide Details He has received the St. Moritz Art Masters Lifetime Achievement Award by Cartier in August. His documentary Ping'an Yueqing (2012) has won the "Spirit of Independence" award at the Beijing Independent Film Festival. He was ranked no.9 in ArtReview's Power 100. He received an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, USA.
    2013 In April, Ai received the Appraisers Association Award for Excellence in the Arts.
    More Details Hide Details Fast Company has listed him among its 2013 list of 100 Most Creative People in Business.
    In 2013, Ai became a Reporters Without Borders ambassador.
    More Details Hide Details He also gave a hundred pictures to the NGO in order to release a Photo book and a digital album, both sold in order to fund freedom of information projects. In 2014–2015, Ai explored human rights and freedom of expression through an exhibition of his art exclusively created for Alcatraz, a notorious federal penitentiary from 27 September 2014 to 26 April 2015. Ai reveals new perspectives on this Alcatraz exhibition which contradicts and raises questions about human rights and the freedom of expression through his artwork at the island's layered legacy as a 19th-century military fortress. 2008 Chinese Contemporary Art Awards, Lifetime Achievement 2009 GQ Men of the Year 2009, Moral Courage (Germany); The Art Review Power 100, rank 43; International Architecture Awards, Anthenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, Chicago, USA 2010 In March 2010, Ai received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Faculty of Politics and Social Science, University of Ghent, Belgium.
    Ai designed the cover for 17 June 2013 issue of Time magazine.
    More Details Hide Details The cover story, by Hannah Beech, is "How China Sees the World". TIME Magazine called it "the most beautiful cover we've ever done in our history." In 2011, Ai served as co-director and curator of the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale, and co-curator of the exhibition Shanshui at The Museum of Art Lucerne. Also in 2011, Ai spoke at TED (conference) and was a guest lecturer at Oslo School of Architecture and Design.
    98 In 2013, after the existence of the PRISM surveillance program was revealed, Ai said "Even though we know governments do all kinds of things I was shocked by the information about the US surveillance operation, Prism.
    More Details Hide Details To me, it's abusively using government powers to interfere in individuals' privacy. This is an important moment for international society to reconsider and protect individual rights." 99 In 2012, Weiwei interviewed a member of the 50 Cent Party, a group of "online commentators" (otherwise known as sockpuppets) covertly hired by the Chinese government to post "comments favourable towards party policies and intending to shape public opinion on internet message boards and forums". Keeping Ai's source anonymous, the transcript was published by the British magazine New Statesman on 17 October 2012, offering insights on the education, life, methods and tactics used by professional trolls serving pro-government interests.
    On 22 June 2013, the two-year anniversary of Ai's release, he released his first music album The Divine Comedy.
    More Details Hide Details Later in August, he released a third music video for the song Chaoyang Park, also included in the album. Ai is the Artistic Director of China Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), which he co-founded in 1997. This contemporary art archive and experimental gallery in Beijing concentrates on experimental art from the People's Republic of China, initiates and facilitates exhibitions and other forms of introductions inside and outside China. The building which houses it was designed by Ai in 2000. On 15 March 2010, Ai took part in Digital Activism in China, a discussion hosted by The Paley Media Center in New York with Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter) and Richard MacManus. Also in 2010 he served as jury member for Future Generation Art Prize, Kiev, Ukraine; contributed design for Comme de Garcons Aoyama Store, Tokyo, Japan; and participated in a talk with Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller at the International Culture festival Litcologne in Cologne, Germany.
    He later released a second single, Laoma Tihua, on 20 June 2013 along with a video on his experience of state surveillance, with footage compiled from his studio's documentaries.
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    On 22 May 2013, Ai debuted his first single Dumbass over the internet, with a music video shot by cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
    More Details Hide Details The video was a reconstruction of Ai's experience in prison, during his 81-day detention, and dives in and out of the prison's reality and the guarding soldiers' fantasies.
  • 2012
    Age 54
    On 24 October 2012, Ai went live with a cover of Gangnam Style, the famous K-pop phenomenon by South Korean rapper PSY, through the posting of a four-minute long parody video on YouTube.
    More Details Hide Details The video was an attempt to criticize the Chinese government's attempt to silence his activism and was quickly blocked by national authorities.
    In summer 2012, Ai teamed again with Herzog & de Meuron on a "would-be archaeological site as a game of make-believe and fleeting memory" as the year's temporary Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London's Kensington Gardens.
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  • 2011
    Age 53
    The documentary goes onto chronologically reconstruct the events that occurred from the time he was arrested at the Beijing airport in April 2011 to his final court appeal in September 2012.
    More Details Hide Details The film portrays the day-to-day activity surrounding Ai Weiwei, his family and his associates ranging from consistent visits by the authorities, interviews with reporters, support and donations from fans, and court dates. The Film premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam on 23 January 2014. 2015, video, 30m This documentary on the Fukushima Art Project is about artist Ai Weiwei’s investigation of the site as well as the project's installation process. In August 2014, Ai Weiwei was invited as one of the participating artists for the Fukushima Nuclear Zone by the Japanese art coalition Chim↑Pom, as part of the project Don’t Follow the Wind. Ai accepted the invitation and sent his assistant Ma Yan to the exclusion zone in Japan to investigate the site. The Fukushima Nuclear Exclusion Zone is thus far located within the 20-kilometer radius of land area of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. 25,000 people have already been evacuated from the Exclusion Zone. Both water and electric circuits were cut off. Entrance restriction is expected to be relieved in the next thirty years, or even longer. The art project will also be open to public at that time. The three spots usable as exhibition spaces by the artists are all former residential houses, among which exhibition site one and two were used for working and lodging; and exhibition site three was used as a community entertainment facility with an ostrich farm.
    On 24 June 2011, Ai told a Radio Free Asia reporter that he was thankful for the support of the Hong Kong public, and praised Hong Kong's conscious society.
    More Details Hide Details Ai also mentioned that his detention by the Chinese regime was hellish (Chinese: 九死一生), and stressed that he is forbidden to say too much to reporters. After his release, his sister gave some details about his detention condition to the press, explaining that he was subjected to a kind of psychological torture: he was detained in a tiny room with constant light, and two guards were set very close to him at all times, and watched him constantly. In November, Chinese authorities were again investigating Ai and his associates, this time under the charge of spreading pornography. Lu was subsequently questioned by police, and released after several hours though the exact charges remain unclear. In January 2012, in its International Review issue Art in America magazine featured an interview with Ai Weiwei at his home in China. J.J. Camille (the pen name of a Chinese-born writer living in New York), "neither a journalist nor an activist but simply an art lover who wanted to talk to him" had travelled to Beijing the previous September to conduct the interview and to write about his visit to "China's most famous dissident artist" for the magazine.
    On 23 June 2011, professor Wang Yujin of China University of Political Science and Law stated that the release of Ai on bail shows that the Chinese government could not find any solid evidence of Ai's alleged "economic crime".
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    On 22 June 2011, the Chinese authorities released Ai from jail after almost three months' detention on charges of tax evasion.
    More Details Hide Details Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., a company Ai controlled, had allegedly evaded taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents. State media also reports that Ai was granted bail on account of Ai's "good attitude in confessing his crimes", willingness to pay back taxes, and his chronic illnesses. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, he is prohibited from leaving Beijing without permission for one year. Ai's supporters widely viewed his detention as retaliation for his vocal criticism of the government.
    On 16 May 2011, the Chinese authorities allowed Ai's wife to visit him briefly.
    More Details Hide Details Liu Xiaoyuan, his attorney and personal friend, reported that Wei was in good physical condition and receiving treatment for his chronic diabetes and hypertension; he was not in a prison or hospital but under some form of house arrest. He is the subject of the 2012 documentary film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, directed by American filmmaker Alison Klayman, which received a special jury prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and opened the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America's largest documentary festival, in Toronto on 26 April 2012.
    The United States and European Union protested Ai's detention. The international arts community also mobilised petitions calling for the release of Ai: "1001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei" was organized by Creative Time of New York that calls for artists to bring chairs to Chinese embassies and consulates around the world on 17 April 2011, at 1 pm local time "to sit peacefully in support of the artist's immediate release."
    More Details Hide Details Artists in Hong Kong, Germany and Taiwan demonstrated and called for Ai to be released. One of the major protests by U.S. museums took place on 19 and 20 May when the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego organized a 24-hour silent protest in which volunteer participants, including community members, media, and museum staff, occupied two traditionally styled Chinese chairs for one-hour periods. The 24-hour sit-in referenced Ai's sculpture series, Marble Chair, two of which were on view and were subsequently acquired for the Museum's permanent collection. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the International Council of Museums, which organised petitions, said they had collected more than 90,000 signatures calling for the release of Ai. On 13 April 2011, a group of European intellectuals led by Václav Havel had issued an open letter to Wen Jiabao, condemning the arrest and demanding the immediate release of Ai. The signatories include Ivan Klíma, Jiří Gruša, Jáchym Topol, Elfriede Jelinek, Adam Michnik, Adam Zagajewski, Helmuth Frauendorfer; Bei Ling (Chinese:贝岭), a Chinese poet in exile drafted and also signed the open letter.
    The China Daily subsidiary, the Global Times editorial on 6 April 2011 attacked Ai, saying "Ai Weiwei likes to do something 'others dare not do.'
    More Details Hide Details He has been close to the red line of Chinese law. Objectively speaking, Chinese society does not have much experience in dealing with such persons. However, as long as Ai Weiwei continuously marches forward, he will inevitably touch the red line one day." Two days later, the journal scorned Western media for questioning Ai's charge as a "catch-all crime", and denounced the use of his political activism as a "legal shield" against everyday crimes. It said "Ai's detention is one of the many judicial cases handled in China every day. It is pure fantasy to conclude that Ai's case will be handled specially and unfairly." Frank Ching expressed in the South China Morning Post that how the Global Times could radically shift its position from one-day to the next was reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. Michael Sheridan of The Times suggested that Ai had offered himself to the authorities on a platter with some of his provocative art, particularly photographs of himself nude with only a toy alpaca hiding his modesty – with a caption『草泥马挡中央』 ("grass mud horse covering the middle"). The term possesses a double meaning in Chinese: one possible interpretation was given by Sheridan as: "Fuck your mother, the party central committee".
    State media started describing Ai as a "deviant and a plagiarist" in early 2011.
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    On 3 April 2011, Ai was arrested at Beijing Capital International Airport just before catching a flight to Hong Kong and his studio facilities were searched.
    More Details Hide Details A police contingent of approximately 50 officers came to his studio, threw a cordon around it and searched the premises. They took away laptops and the hard drive from the main computer; along with Ai, police also detained eight staff members and Ai's wife, Lu Qing. Police also visited the mother of Ai's two-year-old son. While state media originally reported on 6 April that Ai was arrested at the airport because "his departure procedures were incomplete," the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on 7 April that Ai was arrested under investigation for alleged economic crimes. Then, on 8 April, police returned to Ai's workshop to examine his financial affairs. On 9 April, Ai's accountant, as well as studio partner Liu Zhenggang and driver Zhang Jingsong, disappeared, while Ai's assistant Wen Tao has remained missing since Ai's arrest on 3 April. Ai's wife said that she was summoned by the Beijing Chaoyang district tax bureau, where she was interrogated about his studio's tax on 12 April. South China Morning Post reports that Ai received at least two visits from the police, the last being on 31 March – three days before his detention – apparently with offers of membership to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. A staff member recalled that Ai had mentioned receiving the offer earlier, "Ai didn't say if it was a membership of the CPPCC at the municipal or national level, how he responded or whether he accepted it or not."
    On 11 January 2011, the Shanghai city government forcibly demolished the Ai Weiwei Studio within a day, without any prior notice. 2013, video, 1h 17m This video tells the story of Liu Ximei, who at her birth in 1985 was given to relatives to be raised because she was born in violation of China’s strict one-child policy.
    More Details Hide Details When she was ten years old, Liu was severely injured while working in the fields and lost large amounts of blood. While undergoing treatment at a local hospital, she was given a blood transfusion that was later revealed to be contaminated with HIV. Following this exposure to the virus, Liu contracted AIDS. According to official statistics, in 2001 there were 850,000 AIDS sufferers in China, many of whom contracted the illness in the 1980s and 1990s as the result of a widespread plasma market operating in rural, impoverished areas and using unsafe collection methods. 2014, video, 2h 8m Ai Weiwei’s Appeal ¥15,220,910.50 opens with Ai Weiwei’s mother at the Venice Biennial in the summer of 2013 examining Ai’s large S.A.C.R.E.D. installation portraying his 81-day imprisonment.
    Ai asserts that the entire matter – including the 81 days he spent in jail in 2011 – is intended to suppress his provocations.
    More Details Hide Details Ai said he had no illusions as to how the case would turn out, as he believes the court will protect the government's own interests. On 20 June, hundreds of Ai's supporters gathered outside the Chaoyang District Court in Beijing despite a small army of police officers, some of whom videotaped the crowd and led several people away. On 20 July, Ai's tax appeal was rejected in court. The same day Ai's studio released "The Fake Case" which tracks the status and history of this case including a timeline and the release of official documents. On 27 September, the court upheld the 2.4 million tax evasion fine. Ai had previously deposited 1.33 million in a government-controlled account in order to appeal. Ai said he will not pay the remainder because he does not recognize the charge. In October 2012, authorities revoked the license of Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd for failing to re-register, an annual requirement by the administration. The company was not able to complete this procedure as its materials and stamps were confiscated by the government.
    In the evening of 11 January 2011, Ai's studio was demolished in a surprise move by the local government.
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  • 2010
    Age 52
    Ai suggested that the authorities wanted to prevent him from attending the ceremony in December 2010 to award the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to fellow dissident Liu Xiaobo.
    More Details Hide Details Ai said that he had not been invited to the ceremony, and was attempting to travel to South Korea for a meeting when he was told that he could not leave for reasons of national security.
    Like other activists and intellectuals, Ai was prevented from leaving China in late 2010.
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    On 3 November 2010, Ai said the government had informed him two months earlier that the newly completed studio would be knocked down because it was illegal.
    More Details Hide Details Ai complained that this was unfair, as he was "the only one singled out to have my studio destroyed". The Guardian reported Ai saying Shanghai municipal authorities were "frustrated" by documentaries on subjects they considered sensitive: two of the better known ones featured Shanghai resident Feng Zhenghu, who lived in forced exile for three months in Narita Airport, Tokyo; another well-known documentary focused on Yang Jia, who murdered six Shanghai police officers. In the end, the party took place without Weiwei's presence; his supporters feasted on river crab, an allusion to "harmony", and a euphemism used to jeer official censorship. Ai was released from house arrest the next day.
    In November 2010, Ai was placed under house arrest by the Chinese police.
    More Details Hide Details He said this was to prevent the planned party marking the demolition of his newly built Shanghai studio. The building was designed and built by Ai upon encouragement and persuasion from a "high official Shanghai" as part of a new cultural area designated by Shanghai Municipal authorities; Ai would have used it as a studio and to teach architecture courses. But now Ai has been accused of erecting the structure without the necessary planning permission and a demolition notice has been ordered, even though, Ai said, officials had been extremely enthusiastic, and the entire application and planning process was "under government supervision". According to Ai, a number of artists were invited to build new studios in this area of Shanghai because officials wanted to create a cultural area.
  • 2009
    Age 51
    In 2009, the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design selected the home for its International Architecture Awards, one of the world's most prestigious global awards for new architecture, landscape architecture, interiors and urban planning.
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    On 14 September 2009, Ai was diagnosed to be suffering internal bleeding in a hospital in Munich, Germany, and the doctor arranged for emergency brain surgery.
    More Details Hide Details The cerebral hemorrhage is believed to be linked to the police attack. According to the Financial Times, in an attempt to force Ai to leave the country, two accounts used by him had been hacked in a sophisticated attack on Google in China dubbed Operation Aurora, their contents read and copied; his bank accounts were investigated by state security agents who claimed he was under investigation for "unspecified suspected crimes".
    Ai published the collected names as well as numerous articles documenting the investigation on his blog which was shut down by Chinese authorities in May 2009.
    More Details Hide Details He also posted his list of names of schoolchildren who died on the wall of his office at FAKE Design in Beijing. Ai suffered headaches and claimed he had difficulty concentrating on his work since returning from Chengdu in August 2009, where he was beaten by the police for trying to testify for Tan Zuoren, a fellow investigator of the shoddy construction and student casualties in the earthquake.
    On 20 March 2009, he posted a blog titled "Citizens' Investigation" and wrote: "To remember the departed, to show concern for life, to take responsibility, and for the potential happiness of the survivors, we are initiating a "Citizens' Investigation."
    More Details Hide Details We will seek out the names of each departed child, and we will remember them." As of 14 April 2009, the list had accumulated 5,385 names.
  • 2008
    Age 50
    In June 2008, Yang Jia carried a knife, a hammer, a gas mask, pepper spray, gloves and Molotov cocktails to the Zhabei Public Security Branch Bureau and killed six police officers, injuring another police officer and a guard.
    More Details Hide Details He was arrested on the scene, and was subsequently charged with intentional homicide. In the following six months, while Yang Jia was detained and trials were held, his mother has mysteriously disappeared. This video is a documentary that traces the reasons and motivations behind the tragedy and investigates into a trial process filled with shady cover-ups and questionable decisions. The film provides a glimpse into the realities of a government-controlled judicial system and its impact on the citizens’ lives. 2010, video, 2h 6m “The future dictionary definition of ‘crackdown’ will be: First cover one’s head up firmly, and then beat him or her up violently.” – @aiww In the summer of 2010, the Chinese government began a crackdown on dissent, and Hua Hao Yue Yuan documents the stories of Liu Dejun and Liu Shasha, whose activism and outspoken attitude led them to violent abuse from the authorities. On separate occasions, they were kidnapped, beaten and thrown into remote locations. The incidents attracted much concern over the Internet, as well as wide speculation and theories about what exactly happened. This documentary presents interviews of the two victims, witnesses and concerned netizens. In which it gathers various perspectives about the two beatings, and brings us closer to the brutal reality of China’s “crackdown on crime”.
    Ten days after the 8.0-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan province on 12 May 2008, Ai led a team to survey and film the post-quake conditions in various disaster zones.
    More Details Hide Details In response to the government's lack of transparency in revealing names of students who perished in the earthquake due to substandard school campus constructions, Ai recruited volunteers online and launched a "Citizens' Investigation" to compile names and information of the student victims.
    He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called "tofu-dreg schools" in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
    More Details Hide Details In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing Capital International Airport on 3 April, he was held for 81 days without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of "economic crimes".
  • FORTIES
  • 2007
    Age 49
    In August 2007, he also accused those choreographing the Olympic opening ceremony, including Steven Spielberg and Zhang Yimou, of failing to live up to their responsibility as artists.
    More Details Hide Details Ai said "It's disgusting. I don't like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgment." In February 2008, Spielberg withdrew from his role as advisor to the 2008 Summer Olympics. When asked why he participated in the designing of the Bird's Nest in the first place, Ai replied "I did it because I love design."
  • 2005
    Age 47
    In 2005, Ai was invited to start blogging by Sina Weibo, the biggest internet platform in China.
    More Details Hide Details He posted his first blog on 19 November. For four years, he "turned out a steady stream of scathing social commentary, criticism of government policy, thoughts on art and architecture, and autobiographical writings." The blog was shut down by Sina on 28 May 2009. Ai then turned to Twitter and wrote prolifically on the platform, claiming at least eight hours online every day. He wrote almost exclusively in Chinese using the account @aiww. As of 31 December 2013, Ai has declared that he would stop tweeting but the account remains active in forms of retweets and Instagram posts. Ai supported the Amnesty International petition for Iranian filmmaker Hossein Rajabian and his brother, musician Mehdi Rajabian and released the news on his Twitter pages.
  • 2000
    Age 42
    In 2000, he co-curated the art exhibition Fuck Off with curator Feng Boyi in Shanghai, China.
    More Details Hide Details Ai is married to artist Lu Qing, and has a son from an extramarital relationship.
  • 1999
    Age 41
    In 1999, Ai moved to Caochangdi, in the northeast of Beijing, and built a studio house – his first architectural project.
    More Details Hide Details Due to his interest in architecture, he founded the architecture studio FAKE Design, in 2003.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1993
    Age 35
    In 1993, Ai returned to China after his father became ill.
    More Details Hide Details He helped establish the experimental artists' Beijing East Village and co-published a series of three books about this new generation of artists with Chinese curator Feng Boyi: Black Cover Book (1994), White Cover Book (1995), and Gray Cover Book (1997).
  • TWENTIES
  • 1983
    Age 25
    Ai attended the Art Students League of New York from 1983 to 1986, where he studied with Bruce Dorfman, Knox Martin and Richard Pousette-Dart.
    More Details Hide Details He later dropped out of school, and made a living out of drawing street portraits and working odd jobs. During this period, he gained exposure to the works of Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and Jasper Johns, and began creating conceptual art by altering readymade objects. Ai befriended beat poet Allen Ginsberg while living in New York, following a chance meeting at a poetry reading where Ginsberg read out several poems about China. Ginsberg had travelled to China and met with Ai's father, the noted poet Ai Qing, and consequently Ginsberg and Ai became friends. When he was living in the East Village (from 1983 to 1993), Ai carried a camera with him all the time and would take pictures of his surroundings wherever he was. The resulting collection of photos were later selected and is now known as the New York Photographs.
  • 1981
    Age 23
    From 1981 to 1993, he lived in the United States, mostly in New York City.
    More Details Hide Details He studied briefly at Parsons School of Design.
  • 1978
    Age 20
    In 1978, he was one of the founders of the early avant garde art group the "Stars", together with Ma Desheng, Wang Keping, Huang Rui, Li Shuang, Zhong Acheng and Qu Leilei.
    More Details Hide Details The group disbanded in 1983, yet Ai participated in regular Stars group shows, The Stars: Ten Years, 1989 (Hanart Gallery, Hong Kong and Taipei), and a retrospective exhibition in Beijing in 2007: Origin Point (Today Art Museum, Beijing). In 2014, Ai had a piece named, "Illumination (2014) is housed in the old prison hospital, which looks and feels like the set of a horror film needing no embellishment. For this work, Ai has installed recordings of Tibetan and Native American chants in two psychiatric evaluation rooms, which are tiled chambers created for the observation of mentally ill patients. In these cramped rooms, the rhythmic noises—spiritual, strong, and culturally significant—contrast with the shiny mint-colored walls. The mix of clinical and consciousness is startling, bringing presence to a place that even when it was open and functioning was meant to reduce human to subject. Both haunting and aesthetically delightful, this ambitious exhibition exposes issues of freedom of speech and human rights by creating artistic possibility within and about a broken system. Giving a collective voice to silenced dissidents might just prompt newly sympathetic ears."
    In 1978, Ai enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy and studied animation.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1958
    Age 0
    Ai's father was the Chinese poet Ai Qing, who was denounced during the Anti-Rightist Movement. In 1958, the family was sent to a labour camp in Beidahuang, Heilongjiang, when Ai was one year old.
    More Details Hide Details They were subsequently exiled to Shihezi, Xinjiang in 1961, where they lived for 16 years. Upon Mao Zedong's death and the end of the Cultural Revolution, the family returned to Beijing in 1976.
  • 1957
    Born
    Born on August 28, 1957.
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