A photo posted today on Ai Weiwei’s Instagram account indicates that the dissident artist has finally retrieved his passport, which had been confiscated by the Chinese government over four years ago.
The photo showed Ai holding a People’s Republic of China passport, with a Chinese caption that reads: “Today, I got my passport back.”
Ai, born in Beijing and the founder of an art village in the city, has long been creating controversial art pieces with political elements, leading to combat by the government.
His passport was seized in 2011, a move that he says was “politically motivated”, although no official explanation was given regarding the confiscation.
When celebrating his 58th birthday in May, Ai’s friends presented him with a mock passport cake.
Unable to leave China and under constant surveillance, Ai had resorted to setting up art installations in locations outside the country with the help of volunteers and a webcam, although he “embraced the ironies of […] celebrating free expression while working under severe constraints”.
This also means he wasn’t able to personally accept his Ambassador of Conscience Award, Amnesty International’s most prestigious human rights award, which had been bestowed upon the artist in March.
Ai opened his solo exhibition “Ai Weiwei” last month in Beijing, making it the first solo show he’s launched in his home country.
By Joyce Ng
[Images via Instagram of Ai Wei Wei]