In an attack on the “disgusting” political conditions in the one-party state, Ai Weiwei told the Guardian he would not attend the opening ceremony a year from now, or allow himself to be associated with either the government or the games.
Ai likened the Bird’s Nest and the general use of art/architecture for propaganda purposes to a “fake smile” used to hide the unseemly reality of China:
When asked about what China was trying to hide, Ai said: “There are too many things. The whole political structure, the condition of civil rights … corruption, pollution, education, you name it.”
Therefore, he prefers that his relation to the whole thing be forgotten. He says that he was not hired by the Chinese government, but rather by a Swiss architectural company.
At this point, most of the media reports make an obligatory mention of Ai’s familial history — he’s the son of the famous poet Ai Qing, who was exiled to Xinjiang for being a “rightist”.
Honestly, none of this makes much sense to us: when asked why he did it, Ai replied “I did it because I love design and the idea of how it would be looked at by others,” he said. “I can also do self-criticism.”
We completely sympathize with his sentiments about the Olympics and the “shitty directors” (Zhang Yimou and Steven Spielberg) involved in it, but still, didn’t he know things would end up this way? If he had “boycotted” the Olympics by not participating at all, his later criticism might have carried less weight as an outsider. But as someone intimately involved with the design of the stadium, his criticism will carry more weight, especially coming right after China celebrated the one-year countdown to the start of the Games.
And while this criticism has carried some weight in the western press, there has been predictably little coverage of it in the Chinese media, with what coverage there has been occurring in the overseas Chinese press.
Photo from tech.163.com