China Detains Prominent Artist

"Artist Ai Weiwei’s detention yesterday at Beijing’s airport just before he boarded a plane for Hong Kong signals a more serious government attempt to curb his activities and ability to travel,” says Asia Society Museum Director Melissa Chiu. “Although he is frequently referred to as a ‘dissident’ voice, until now he conducted an international art career traveling with frequency to attend his art openings. Recently, one of the most attention-grabbing was the opening celebration at the Tate Museum last October for his installation of porcelain sunflower seeds. Although his statements on government actions and policies to the media and through his own tweets and blogs have been seen as political, his art rarely addresses such issues overtly. Now the question is whether his statements have gone too far. There is no doubt that the Chinese government is carefully watching the outcome of protests in North Africa and the Middle East. Will the Chinese government make Ai Weiwei into the next Liu Xiaobo?”

Melissa is in New York. To arrange an interview, contact the Asia Society communications department at 212-327-9271 or