Ai Weiwei's Supporters Keep Up Pressure on China's Authorities
Hundreds of supporters of famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei staged a "chair protest" Monday inspired by his own art installations to mark the one month anniversary of his mysterious detention.
Ai, a superstar on the global art scene, hasn't been heard from since he was snatched up by Chinese authorities at Beijing's international airport on April 3. He's been a harsh critic of the Communist regime in Beijing, and been placed under arrest before.
Taking their cues from Ai's famous 2007 "Fairytale" installation in Germany, his supporters Monday brought chairs to Hong Kong's Victoria Park and formed the Chinese character for "prison." For "Fairytale," Ai took 1,001 Ming and Qing dynasty wooden chairs to Germany, along with 1,001 Chinese citizens between the ages of 2 and 70.
At the same time, a recent spate of graffiti in Hong Kong calling for Ai's release has prompted a warning from the Chinese army, which generally keeps a low profile in the former British colony, which enjoys more Democratic freedoms than mainland China.
An artist projected an image that read "Who's Afraid of Ai Weiwei" onto the wall of a Chinese garrison, and similar messages have been spray-painted onto Hong Kong pavements, sidewalks and walls.
In other parts of the world, exhibitions of Ai's work have been attracting widespread support, with crowds in Berlin and London expressing solidarity with the artist, and outrage at China's crackdown on dissent.
Both the Tate Modern in London and the Neugerriemschneider gallery in Berlin erected pro-Ai messages on the outside of their buildings. And supporters scattered "Free Ai Weiwei" leaflets on the artist's celebrated Sunflower Seeds exhibition at the Tate.
New York City will soon get its own Ai installation — "Zodiac Heads" — in a park outside the Plaza Hotel. The unveiling has been temporarily postponed in the wake of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.