Ai Weiwei’s First Major U.S. Show Has Everything but the Dissident Artist Himself

top chinese artist In October, Washington, D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum opened Ai Weiwei: According to What?, the first major retrospective of works by the Chinese artist in North America. The show has received glowing reviews from art critics and visitors alike. The artist himself might share that view, if he ever gets the chance to see it.

“We had always hoped that he would be here for the opening,” explains Kerry Brougher, chief curator at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. “Unfortunately, as we were in the middle of working with Ai Weiwei on the exhibition, he was arrested in China and incarcerated for 81 days.”

Though Weiwei was released in June of 2011, the Chinese government’s refusal to return his passport makes it unlikely that he will be allowed to visit his landmark show – the latest move in a series of conflicts between the artist and the state.

Whether chastising the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a “fake smile” to the world, detailing the deadly results of shoddy school construction after the Sichuan earthquake, or meticulously documenting the increasingly aggressive police measures used against him, the encounters between Weiwei and the Communist government seem to be in a constant state of escalation.

Weiwei’s reputation has arguably grown larger despite – or because of – the Chinese government’s attempts to rein him in. Without the benefit of a passport, Weiwei has increasingly turned to the internet to engage the wider world. He has found a receptive audience waiting for him.

As Alison Klayman, director of the the critically acclaimed documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, tells it, “I think, for Weiwei, the one source for optimism does come from new technology and the Internet. [It's] the idea that people can express themselves, be connected, see things outside their own context – both within China and globally.”

“There is a blurring of his internet activity and his art.” says the Hirshorn’s Brougher. “There is no direct dividing line between the sculptures that are in this gallery and what happens when he actually sends things out to the thousands of people that are following him.”

Ai Weiwei: According to What? will remain in D.C. until the end of February, at which point the show is scheduled to move to Indianapolis, Toronto, Miami, and eventually New York. There is, as yet, no word whether the artist himself might be as free to travel.

Shot, edited, and produced by Meredith Bragg. Narrated by Nick Gillespie.

About 5:45 minutes.

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Duration : 0:5:48

24 Responses to “Ai Weiwei’s First Major U.S. Show Has Everything but the Dissident Artist Himself”

  1. KizoneKaprow says:

    Oh my.

    Oh my.

  2. 34lbs says:

    That’s probably …
    That’s probably what you are watching right now, and jerking off.. especially at the killer cops part, ur a sick u kno that, jerking off at cops killing people, sik fuk.

  3. KizoneKaprow says:

    Mary, you’re …
    Mary, you’re missing Morning Links! The topic today is porn, big tits, masturbation and killer cops. Just like yesterday and the day before. Come on over. We miss you!

  4. 34lbs says:

    How you doing? Did …
    How you doing? Did you remember to clean the basement where you live, like mummy told you.

  5. KizoneKaprow says:

    Hi Mary!
    Hi Mary!

  6. 34lbs says:

    I actually do not …
    I actually do not care who they think i am, i’m just there to read and contribute to the conversation, who i am is not important. But ur really amazing though, what do you do for a living, do you have a job, or go to school/college?

  7. KizoneKaprow says:

    Poor Pripyat. Still …
    Poor Pripyat. Still begging for attention? Tell them how your paranoid buddies at Hit & Run accused you of being Mary. That was hilarious! Hmmm…you DO sound a bit like her…nah, couldn’t be! But still…

  8. KizoneKaprow says:

    “The video is about …
    “The video is about Ai Weiwei. Nothing else.”

    Translation: (with fingers in ears) “LALALALALALALALALALA!”

  9. Nipponjyon says:

    This background …
    This background missing has some weird sound effect that was quite annoying using headphones at least.

  10. ricluvno304 says:

    It’s great to go …
    It’s great to go see this exhibit for free

  11. mamboz1 says:

    Anyone know what’s …
    Anyone know what’s the music that’s playing in the background?

  12. wowalinbie says:

    I don’t know how …
    I don’t know how libertarians feel, but when this happens where ever it is time for the people their to pick up a gun not a paint brush.

  13. Kempton Lam says:

    Great video. Thanks …
    Great video. Thanks for making it and sharing it.

  14. nothosaur says:

    “He was taken into …
    “He was taken into ‘secret detention’” by law enforcement officers.

    Wow, I’m glad that cannot happen in the U.S.

    Oh, wait, was the NDAA signed into law?

    Sorry, never mind.

  15. sniper6081 says:

    Okay. Thanks for …
    Okay. Thanks for the heads up.

  16. 34lbs says:

    Ignore KizoneKaprow …
    Ignore KizoneKaprow, he’s a blatant troll, he also trolls the Reason Message Boards under the name “You Know My Name”. He’s kind of annoying.

  17. DrCarstairs says:

    A real Hero.
    A real Hero.

  18. sniper6081 says:

    First of all, don’t …
    First of all, don’t be a dick to your fellow libertarian. Second, I never said anything in favor of government funding of the Smithsonian. All I said was it’s not the subject matter of this video. Reason has made videos in the past against the institution. If you took the time to check that out you’d know that. The video is about Ai Weiwei. Nothing else. It shouldn’t be that hard to understand.

  19. DonXenophone says:

    whats the song?
    whats the song?

  20. ghuegel says:

    Sure, that’d be a …
    Sure, that’d be a plus, but freedom of expression is an end in itself. He supports that, so I support him in those efforts. It’s irrelevant if he agrees with me on any other issues.

  21. coolman949 says:

    Why hasn’t the …
    Why hasn’t the mainstream media picked up on this story?

  22. Gordon Parnell says:

    this is one guy …
    this is one guy america needs too. so much worse abuses in america than china. 

  23. Jonathan13Weber says:

    Does anyone know …
    Does anyone know the song in this video? Is it “Shigeto” ?

  24. 50PullUps says:

    I just hope Ai …
    I just hope Ai Weiwei supports economic freedom as vehemently as freedom of expression….

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