Tales of the Watchtower and the Release of Ai Weiwei: Following the Saga

24 June 2011artists

Yesterday, it was announced that Ai Weiwei has been released. I, and the rest of the arts community rejoiced as soon as we heard the news. It´s a coincidence that I just finished reading Phaidon´s first monograph on Ai Weiwei and have finally grasped the language of his sculpture. Any celebration thrown now would be half-bake as we know that the story has not even reached the climax. We all know that Ai Weiwei will continually be “observed” and followed by the dreadfully invading CCTV. And unless he invents a whole new set of signs and Morse codes to communicate and let us know what really happened, then we need to follow the saga.

He´s on bail for Godsakes, for tax evasion and was released due to “good behaviour for confessing his crimes.” He was able to speak to some reporters outside his studio today but was not able to talk about his detention and also not allowed to travel, part of the condition of his release. And this is I am afraid would be the start of his rehabilitation. I wonder how a man who had been so outspoken on his criticism about his government would suddenly be forced to shut up.

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CCTV by Ai Weiwei

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Newsclippings on Ai Weiwei

I will understand him of course, if he decides to do so. He has a family and friends to protect. He still has a lot of years under his belt to create great art. I will forgive him if he chooses to be quiet for now because in some way he has done his part. Even if he chooses to shut up, the detention itself had spoken for him. It had opened a can of worms to a society and system where individuality and freedom of speech do not exist. Ai Weiwei has already spoken in his silence. I only pray that from now on he and his family would be safe.

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Dog in the Circle of Zodiac Heads at the Somerset House

A few days ago, a close friend announced that she and her family are moving to China because her husband got promoted in the job. They will live like expats in Nanjing. I reckon they will live in a spacious house, with a big garden and a swimming pool. I imagine the children will study in international schools and will have maids and a chauffeur to bring them. I imagine them to have the very best things in life. But in my heart I know they would live in a nation under the great watchtower of a CCTV.

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Coffin by Ai Weiwei at the Lisson gallery

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