Ai Weiwei studio no longer

 

Source: New York Times

A short post to note the passing of Ai Weiwei’s Shanghai studio, a demolition that had been promised by Shanghai authorities but without clear specification of a demolition date. That demolition date, it would appear, has arrived.

As Edward Wong dutifully reports (NYT article here), Ai Weiwei, who lives primarily in Beijing, not Shanghai, was alerted to the arrival of the bulldozers by his Shanghai neighbors.  He made it just in time to see the final pieces of his one-million-dollar investment turn to rubble (and pick up at least one major piece for the photography above).

The rest of this business aside (probably well-enough addressed elsewhere in this blog, not to mention just about everywhere else, including CultureGrrl with this post), I am struck again by the notion, as repeated by Wong, that Ai’s ongoing struggle with Chinese authorities could be considered a form of “performance art.”  What, I wonder, is being performed? And who has the script?  Is there possibly the implication that one or more parties is actually playing a “role”, which begs the question of what “real” sympathies might underlie the act.  Not to say that I find this description inaccurate.  Indeed, given the kind of stage that global media sets for such artists as Ai, the notion of performance, replete with acts and climaxes, lulls, intervals and intermissions, is indeed apt.  At the end of the day, though, Ai has no studio to go home to in Shanghai.  At least the broken bricks are real.

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