china may allow ai weiwei to visit his london show
The authorities let him stage a show in Beijing, so the curator of his upcoming Royal Academy exhibition is hopeful.
Artist and protester Ai Weiwei has not been able to leave China since his 81-day arrest in 2011, but curators at the Royal Academy in London are hopeful that the Chinese authorities will allow him to visit his show at the gallery later this year after they gave the green light to a domestic exhibition of his work in Beijing.
RA Co-curator Adrian Locke told the Evening Standard, "We simply don't know whether he will or won't be able to come. But the authorities have allowed him to have an exhibition in Beijing and said that was a constructive new beginning. Presumably they are trying to encourage him to be less political but whether that is something he wants to embrace or not is another matter."
Locke's fellow Co-curator Tim Marlow says, "Ai Weiwei is one of the most important artists in the world today but his work has not been seen anywhere near as much as it should have been the UK. This exhibition will begin to redress that balance." The exhibition, which opens at the Royal Academy on 19 September, will present marble surveillance cameras, a map of China made from individual porcelain ornaments that each have the slogan "Free Speech" and twisted steel rods that Weiwei collected from the site of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, where shoddy building work was blamed for many deaths.
Since 2013, Ai Weiwei has been protesting his ban on leaving the country in an artwork dubbed #FlowersForFreedom. He explained the process in a tweet earlier today, saying "From November 30, 2013, every morning I have placed a bouquet of flowers in the basket of a bicycle outside the front door of the No. 258 Caochangdi studio until I win back the right to travel. The 563th day, June 15, 2015."
It was announced in February that, in spite of the travel ban, Ai Weiwei will direct a short film in the 10-part series Cities of Love. The artist will direct Berlin, I Love You via Skype from his home in Beijing.
Text Charlotte Gush