Ai Weiwei Says He Was Removed from Inaugural Yinchuan Biennale for Political Reasons

Is the government continuing to target the infamous artist?

Ai Weiwei at his exhibition in 2015 at London's Royal Academy of Art. Photo Alex B. Huckle/Getty Images.
Ai Weiwei at his exhibition in 2015 at London's Royal Academy of Art. Photo Alex B. Huckle/Getty Images.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei says that his work was removed from the inaugural Yinchuan Biennale for political reasons. The news first emerged in two tweets yesterday:

The exhibition, “For an Image, Faster than Light,” is slated to open in just two weeks at the Museum of Contemporary Art Yinchuan. Among the 73 other artists on the roster, according to a press release, are Dana Awartani, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, Anish Kapoor, Santiago Sierra, and Song Dong. It’s curated by Mumbai-based artist/curator Bose Krishnamachari, co-founder of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

The artist followed up on Wednesday with a longer statement on Instagram, accompanying an image of the museum:

I have just learnt that my artwork has been excluded due to my “political sensitivity”. Censorships in communist regions have been present since the existence of the power. Yet it still comes as a surprise to me for an “international art biennale”, with over a hundred international artists and a foreign curator participating, to remove a single artist for the reason of defending human rights and freedom of speech. This shows what we face is a world which is divided and segregated by ideology, and art is used merely as a decoration for political agendas in certain societies.

China is trying to develop into a modern society without freedom of speech, but without political arguments involving higher aesthetic morals and philosophies, art is only served as a puppet of fake cultural efforts.

Therefore I am happy not to be a part of that effort as a political decoration. I believe the real effort we should make, is in defending freedom of speech for our humanism. Only by doing so, art is worth making.

The museum did not respond to artnet News’s request for comment.


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