a tale of a few cities

Anish Kapoor Blows Off UK Now

Posted in Art, artists, boycott, China, London, Photography, politics, protests by petercombe on June 16, 2011

(Photo: Johnny Shand-Kydd)


LONDON. Anish Kapoor has cancelled plans to present his sculptures at the National Museum of China in Beijing, in protest against the continuing detention of Ai Weiwei. He had been asked by the British Council to consider a show at the newly renovated museum in Tiananmen Square as part the “UK Now” festival in China late next year.

Kapoor’s spokeswoman confirmed to The Art Newspaper that he had been invited to China, but “he is not going to proceed in view of the detention of Ai Weiwei.” Ai, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, was arrested in Beijing in early April for alleged “economic crimes”.

Discussions began about a potential exhibition at the National Museum of China last October, when two directors of London’s Lisson Gallery (which represents Kapoor, stand 2.1/K12 at Art Basel) were in Beijing. Provisional plans were subsequently made for Kapoor to travel to Beijing this month to view the space and talk with the museum. The idea would have been to mount an exhibition with a major new work.

Kapoor has been outspoken in his criticism of the Chinese government’s treatment of Ai Weiwei, since his detention on 3 April. On 10 May, when he opened his Leviathan installation at the Grand Palais in Paris, he dedicated it to the Chinese artist, describing his detention as “barbaric”. Once Kapoor had spoken out, it was realised that his participation in the “UK Now” festival would be difficult. A British Council spokeswoman stressed that the exhibition proposal had been at “a very early stage, and until he had seen the space we could not have proceeded”.

British Council chief executive Martin Davidson believes in “freedom of cultural expression”, but is keen for the programme to go ahead. He commented: “It is through cultural exchange that we best demonstrate the benefits of free artistic expression and build supportive links between people in the UK and China.”

The Art Newspaper >
Advertisements

China’s detention of artist Ai Weiwei

Posted in China, Reportage by petercombe on April 6, 2011

Fears for the safety of Ai Weiwei, one of China’s best-known artists are growing amid international condemnation of his extra-legal disappearance at the hands of the country’s increasingly repressive state security apparatus. He was detained at a Beijing airport on Sunday and led away by airport security personnel.

In January Chinese demolition workers tore down the Shanghai studio of the artist – a move that was linked to his political activism. Demolition crews arrived without warning on January 11, 2011 and flattened the building within a day.  He originally had permission to build the studio, but later officials ordered it to be destroyed, saying he had failed to follow planning procedures.

The Chinese government in the midst of the worst crackdown on free speech in at least a decade. Afraid that any mention of the “Jasmine Revolutions” sweeping the Middle East right now might lead to similar protests in China, Chinese authorities are cracking down hard. In the past month, dozens of Chinese bloggersand dissidents have been detained “disappeared”, and in less than 24 hours after his arrest, Ai’s name has been virtually erased from the Chinese internet.

Ai served as the Head Artistic Advisor for Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron’s design for the National Stadium for the Beijing Olympic games of 2008.

Ai Weiwei, Fountain of Light, 2007

Petition to Free Ai Weiwei >

%d bloggers like this: