Deleting AI Weiwei

Article excerpt

Ai Weiwei, arguably the most important Chinese artist of his generation and co-designer of Beijing's 'Bird's Nest' Olympic stadium, is recovering from surgery in Munich after being attacked in August by, the artist says, Chinese police. Weiwei was preparing to stand as a defence witness in a trial against the dissident Tan Zuoren and was engaged in researching the names of children killed when poorly built buildings collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008. During his investigations the artist was frequently obstructed by the authorities: one of his researchers was arrested 26 times while most of the locals he spoke to were later questioned by police. These obstructions culminated on 12 August when, according to the 51 year-old artist, he was detained in a hotel room by Chinese police, punched in the head and prevented from attending the trial. According to the German newspaper Spiegel, when Weiwei arrived in Munich last month for his forthcoming exhibition at the Haus der Kunst, doctors advised him to undergo immediate surgery after diagnosing a cerebral haemorrhage on the right side of his brain. Weiwei has been posting images of himself in hospital to Twitter.

Earlier in the summer, Weiwei had his popular blog (he is often referred to in the non-art press as a political blogger rather than artist) removed from the Chinese news portal website Sina. The artist responded by setting up a new blog--but this time hosted on US servers so that Chinese authorities would not be able to delete it (Weiwei lived in New York throughout the 1980s, only returning to Beijing in the mid 1990s). …


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