Thursday 3 November 2011

Is Ai Weiwei risking freedom again because of his art?

A poster is seen on a work at Tate Modern
 entitled "Sunflower Seeds" by Ai WeiWei, in
central London April 9, 2011 during artist's detention. 
Ai Weiwei, the world famous Chinese artist, has now only two weeks to pay an enormous tax bill served by Chinese authorities of  $ 2.4 millions for unpaid taxes and fines, otherwise he will face seven years in jail.

Ai Weiwei is known worldwide as a conceptual artist, an architect and a film maker, whose aim is to denounce - through his art - Chinese society's corruption and injustice.

When he was released on bail last June by Chinese police, after 81 days detention for presumed fiscal fraud, he was banned from speaking publicly: he could not use Twitter, give interviews and leave Peking for at least one year. But the artist started soon to use Twitter again, to communicate with his followers and, during an interview, he denounced that, during imprisonment, police was not interested at all in his alleged tax evasion, but rather to prevent him from speaking out thanks to his art.

The artist and his lawyers are now rejecting all tax claims, declaring these accusations are used to silence out one of the strongest moral opponent of the Chinese regime. Ai Weiwei is trying to defend himself saying the company which produces his works - the Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd - is run from his wife rather than from him. Nevertheless, Chinese authorities found him guilty for unpaid taxes as "actual controller" of this company, more than as legal owner.

Finally, introducing his 2010 exhibition at the Tate Modern, Mr Ai said with regard to his art " I spend very little time just doing 'art as art'. From a very young age I started to sense that an individual has to set an example in society. Your own act of behaviour tell the world who you are and at the same time what kind of society it should be".

Read more on NY Times here
Read more on Aljazeera here
Read Ai Wewei's quotes  released during the interview for the 2010 Tate Modern exhibition  here

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