Artist + Photographer Ai WeiWei Released from Chinese Prison

After months of detention in a Beijing prison the Chinese government today released famed Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei on bail. Ai, arguably China’s most well known artist, was taken into custody in April amid a crackdown on dissidents and activists across China.

This is breaking news for the art world but it’s also great news to my ears personally. I’ve been moved by his work and intelligent dissent for quite some time, and became even more interested in his work last year while I was working in China on this project and had my first brush with censorship by not being able to share my work socially, using YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter from China due to the censorship of those services. Also of importance to me, and specifically why I’m sharing this here as a more personal note, is that several of Ai’s closest American friends are my dear friends. I’ve been watching that whole circle of friends/relatives live on the edge of their seats in fear for his well being for months. It’s been horrible. It’s an understatement therefore I’m beyond relieved for everyone involved.

Lastly, if you’re not familiar with Ai Wei Wei’s work, please get familiar. He has emerged as perhaps THE gigantic creative voice coming out of China, and in addition to being a photographer, creates… too many amazing things to mention here (so read his wikipedia page). He is perhaps most well known as the designer of the “Bird’s Nest” stadium that was home to the Beijing Olympics, his Sunflower Seed installation at the Tate in London, and his Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads currently on display at Pulitzer Fountain at Grand Army Plaza in NYC, on 59th Street at the southwest corner of Central Park. Do not miss this if you live in, or are passing through NYC.

More info on Ai’s release here from the Guardian UK.

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17 Responses to Artist + Photographer Ai WeiWei Released from Chinese Prison

  1. bryan June 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Hello jarvis i just wanna say you inspired me to take photos after i bought my nikon d7000. I’m a newbie with photography but I’ve always like taking pictures ever since I was kid. Also, I saw your video on youtube on testing the nikon D7000 and it was awesome. More power to you, motivated and stay happy.

  2. Aputure June 23, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    It’s interesting that the first place I learned of this news was your blog! Being based in China, and reading about China all the time, I was well aware of the case of Ai. It’s good to see that he has been released, and that you recognize his work. Welcome back to China!

  3. fas June 23, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    China has horrible governance. I mean you cant stay like that for long!

    • chris June 23, 2011 at 8:21 am #

      lol.. clueless americans
      china has a better future than the usa..

      you probably have no clue how people in america lived a hundred years ago. you had child labour too..
      check out this footage from america mostly new york from the 1860-1910

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzT8EqhuYxA

      this is a natural process.. and history is simply repeating itself!
      just wait another 50-100 years and china will be the riches country on earth which much better living conditions for everybody compared to the us now

      and and most americans will live under worse conditions as many chinese now. jesus.. you already have 40 million people on food stamps..

    • chris June 23, 2011 at 8:27 am #

      i just noticed that you are probably not american..

      but my point still stands about the american hypocrisy.

  4. Xavier June 23, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Ai wei wei is someone extremely gifted and vocal. Personally with his status, he could well live a comfortable and care-free life, but he is different. There are few with a heart and soul like his.

  5. The Creative Ham June 23, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Awesome news. It’s easy to take for granted our freedom of speech.

  6. 周鸣超 June 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Hey Chase! I am your big fan come from China, in China many photographer love you and your pictures.
    Chinese government can not represent the chinese people.
    Thank you very much Chase!

  7. Dan June 25, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    I live and work in China and it’s a sad fact that the majority of people I work with have never even heard of him, or if so, don’t really care that much.

    Despite the growing middle class, there’s still an undercurrent of uncertainty about many things (like healthcare, housing etc) and so a lot of the educated population are still concerned about looking after themselves rather than feeling comfortable enough to rock the boat.

    AWW is still an inspiration – he seems to literally have no fear.

  8. Athol June 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    Hard to believe Chris is defending the Chinese government in view of what they did to Ai. Chase mentioned “a crackdown on dissidents and activists across China,” and that’s absolutely true. Ai was caught up in the same campaign of suppression of basic civil rights that is now oppressing the Shouwang church (Google it). The connection between Ai’s ordeal and the Chinese government’s war on religious freedom is fairly strong. He was tortured for several days in order to obtain a “confession” of “tax evasion,” and part of his torture included being forced to watch horrific videos of a Christian human rights attorney being tortured. Check out that part of the story at Daily Cristo:
    http://dailycristo.com/arts/artist-ai-weiwei-freed-christians-still-imprisoned/

  9. Masahiko F June 30, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    Yes, remember the Senkoku incident of last fall and current ongoing provocations by China in the South China Sea to get a really clear idea of the future. A future only if China should avoid breaking up as it has in the past, avoid its own aging problems, avoid hyper-inflation, food sanitation problems and so on. Ask Vietnam or Malaysia about how wonderful the Chinese government is.

    Comparing China in 2011 to the US 100 years ago tells you something about where China is now. Comparing China to Japan 100 years ago still leaves China in a relatively poor position. China has a very long way to go and many many traps to avoid if it is lead the world. THat takes more than just making profits from selling products invented and designed elsewhere. It takes more than just economic power measured by PPP.

    Locking citizens away because they have offended the government may be fine for “Chris”. By the way Chris, have you noticed how many Chinese assume Western names and troll site looking for criticism of China and then respond by attacking others instead of refuting the original article?

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