The authorities have moved on from Ai’s photographer Zhao Zhao, and moved to charge him with circulating pornographic pictures online. I’d be delighted if any readers of this blog could speculate on the implications for him.
Meantime, I just note that, as reported by XINHUA, on the same day Hu Jintao was making a speech to roughly 3000 members of the Literary/Art world (unrelated observation that the Chinese 文艺界 is such a beautifully convenient word that in three characters does so much). This was in conjunction with the 9th Congress, and his appearances will include other speeches on other topics. Still, his comments on the cultural world strike a rather bizarre note given the current predicament of China’s most famous artist (outside of China, anyway), and one of its leading figures in other respects domestically. Here a bit of the flavor of Hu’s speech (with an aside or two by yours truly–just couldn’t resist):
In the [seemingly eternal!!!] process of reform and opening up and socialist modernization, the variety and vibrancy of our literature and art continues to blossom. The greatest of our artists and writers insist on progressing with the times, and in common destiny with the people. Their effort is focused on serving the people with rich content and artistic quality, providing ample food for thought in order to further consolidate [he could have said “harmonize”] the great unity, great prosperity, and great advancement in this most exciting moment in our country’s historical development.
The vibrancy and food for thought are all Ai’s, but the “common destiny” is the challenge. If nothing else, we might observe a poignant and important contrast: the official view of art (if we take Hu at his word) is that art is constructive, even highly powerful. What artist wouldn’t want to fulfill the call to this mission?
Our country’s socialist literature and art, by lofty spirit and unrestrained passion, plays in irreplacable role in inspiring hundreds of millions of people, satisfying their spiritual needs, enriching their spiritual world, enhancing their spiritual strength, and promoting their overall progress.
Of course, such work is easier said than done, as Ai and countless others are constantly discovering.