Anish Kapoor Shows Work at Biennial in China Despite Censorship of Ai Weiwei

Is the bromance over?

Anish Kapoor and Ai Weiwei depart the Royal Academy as they walk through the city as part of a march in solidarity with migrants currently crossing Europe on September 17, 2015 in London. Photo Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images.
Anish Kapoor and Ai Weiwei depart the Royal Academy as they walk through the city as part of a march in solidarity with migrants currently crossing Europe on September 17, 2015 in London. Courtesy of Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images.

Amid the mild scandal surrounding the removal of a work by Ai Weiwei, the inaugural edition of the Yinchuan Biennale in China finally opened to the public last Friday, on September 9, with the inclusion of work by the artist Anish Kapoor.

This comes as a surprise, as only a few days prior to the opening, Kapoor had suggested he might withdraw his participation in solidarity with his colleague (and pal) Ai.

Anish Kapoor. Courtesy of Kukje Gallery.

Anish Kapoor. Courtesy of Kukje Gallery.

“Since they’ve excluded Weiwei, I think it’s problematic,” Kapoor told journalists at a lunch at Seoul’s Kukje Gallery, where his current exhibition, “Gathering Clouds,” is on view until October 30. “To be honest, I’m wondering if I’m going to take part.”

“I think we need stand against [censorship],” he added. “So even though the work’s on the way, I’m not sure we’ll open.”

Ai first drew attention to the matter in late August, when he claimed that his work would not be shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Yinchuan for political reasons.

A few days later in Seoul, Kapoor seemed concerned about the issue but hesitant about what to do about it. When asked when he would make a final decision, he replied: “Tomorrow, today, now? But I do feel it’s important. I’ve been struggling with it, to be honest,” he admitted, before adding “to take part means to be on the side of the authorities and to collude with it, and I’m not sure one can.”

In the end, he opted for participation in the Chinese biennale, a decision that may or may not have had anything to do with his debut exhibition with Gagosian gallery in Hong Kong, which opened on Monday.

It’s unclear what Ai thinks about the decision of his friend, with whom he staged a much-publicized protest march for refugees in London exactly a year ago.

The Chinese artist, however, has taken to Twitter to express his general disappointment with the non-existent response of his fellow artists to the alleged act of censorship committed by the organization of the Biennale.


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