According to Ai Weiwei’s Twitter feed, Sina’s Art and Finance section recently put up a vote for Most Powerful Contemporary Artists of the Year. By far the most high-profile artist in the country, Ai Weiwei unsurprisingly sprung to the top of the list (as seen above, where Ai Weiwei is second from the left on the bottom row.) The voting option was quickly taken down by Sina and Ai Weiwei removed from the list, seen in its present form here. Voting was then allowed on a selection of art studios instead. Ai Weiwei’s Three Shadows gallery, despite being listed almost last, again quickly rose to the top. Observers then watched as another studio suspiciously jumped a thousand votes up while Three Shadows dropped a few hundred right before voting ended (compare screen grabs here and here.) Scandalous, to say the least. Here’s a summary from his English Twitter feed:
Sina is China’s largest web portal. Sina’s Art and Finance section just posted a vote for “China’s most powerful contemporary artist in 2010”. Ai Weiwei quickly became number one on the list, but since Ai Weiwei is a controversial figure in China they took down the vote. Sina then changed the vote to only include groups of artist and art centers, including Ai Weiwei Studio’s “Three Shadows Photography Art Centre”, which again quickly became number one. Then Ai Wei Wei’s center suddenly lost votes and dropped to second place.
Ai Weiwei’s response:
On this piece of land, any moment might become a historic moment, any event might become a memorable event. It is completely shameless that Sina commits fraud on a public platform.
Considering how controversial he is, the whole thing isn’t entirely surprising. But Sina really should have seen this one coming before allowing themselves to be caught doctoring a public vote. Ai Weiwei’s got an army of devoted online followers who can and do often dominate Chinese contemporary art discussion.
The death of Ai Weiwei’s Shanghai studio
In Pictures: Ai Weiwei’s Shanghai studio demolished