As the opening date of his biggest-ever show ‘Evidence‘ approaches, eyes have turned towards Chinese dissident/artist/etc. Ai Weiwei and the magical case of his missing passport, which was confiscated three years ago by Chinese authorities for (insert reason here) and is currently preventing him from attending the show’s premier in Berlin. In the attached video, Ai personally addresses his buddies at the Beijing Public Security Bureau who confiscated his passport, asking them to give him back his passport – and “if they can’t give it to me now, when…”
Ai is also addressing the international community in this video, which explains his use of English. Among those concerned is American artist/designer/skateboarder Shepard Fairey, most famous for his Barack Obama “Hope” poster, who recently made a poster of Ai Weiwei’s visage in the iconic Orwellian-propaganda style for which he has became famous. Created in collaboration with Friends of Ai Weiwei, an organization dedicated to retrieving the Chinese artist’s passport, Fairey included the following statement:
I admire Ai Weiwei for his art and his activism. His art is beautiful in form, and in function embodies the principles of populism and social consciousness I aspire to in my own practice. This poster is a tribute to Ai Weiwei’s art, his courage to be outspoken, and in support of his ongoing political struggle with the Chinese government. I hope the image will help raise awareness and advance dialogue that might lead to permission for Ai Weiwei to travel freely and continue to express himself.
“Evidence” is set to be Ai’s largest show to date, requiring 9,800 feet and filling up 18 rooms. One exhibit, aptly named “Stools”, involves the stacking of 6,000 stools in the atrium of Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau exhibition hall.
Aside from “Evidence”, Ai states in the video that he needs his passport for such other reasons as speaking at an art school in Germany, and traveling to San Francisco for an installation set to be unveiled at Alcatraz Island. For more background info on why the Chinese government might be a little peeved at Mr. Ai, check out this trailer for the documentary “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”, released in 2012.
By Alex Stevens