AI Weiwei on the streets of Beijing…literally

Beijing Artist AI Weiwei

AI Weiwei is arguably one of China’s most famous artists — living ones, at least. He’s an artist and designer, credited with designing the Birds Nest Olympic stadium. After that singular contribution to China’s olympic-make over, however, he came to regret it, and made numerous public announcements condemning the government’s handling of the olympics. He’s since become an increasingly vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party.

Most recently, Ai’s been active leading the charge against the alleged  gov’t coverup of sub-standard school construction, as exposed by the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, which killed an estimated 70,000 people — 5,000 of which were students, according to official gov’t numbers.  Ai Weiwei collected and publicized the names of students on his blog.

During the trial of a fellow earthquake activist and writer Tan Zuoren in August 2009 in Sichuan, Ai and his team went to Chengdu to testify against the charges of subversion. The night before trial, they were beaten up in the hotel room by local police, and one of their team was taken away. They spent the following day down at the station, trying to find their friend — and missing Tan’s trial. (Documentary video relaying events is shared virally, but not formally posted anywhere, as far as I know.)  Later in September, Ai was hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage in Germany, which he publicized through posts on twitter.

Ai walks a fine line with the authorities. What keeps him out of the prison camps in which his father, renown poet AI Qing, labored, is a testament to the mysterious inner workings of the CCP.

Here’s a link to some of his work.

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