Ai Weiwei accuses curators of rejecting artwork over Julian Assange content | Ai Weiwei


Ai Weiwei accused the organizers of a major art exhibition in the UK of rejecting his works for the exhibition because the article dealt with the imprisonment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The dissident artist and Chinese activist said the piece for The Great Big Art Exhibition featured an image of the treadmill Assange used when applying for asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy.

In an opinion piece for the art website Artnet, Weiwei said the article, titled Postcard for Political Prisoners, incorporated a photograph of the running machine given to him by Assange, inmate at the prison in High Security in Belmarsh, South East London.

Weiwei said that in April the artwork, which was to be sent as a postcard to political prisoners, was delivered to visual arts organization Firstsite, the organizer of the online exhibition. , which he said initially responded enthusiastically.

But after informing Firstsite that there would be a delay because his studio was awaiting Amnesty International’s list of political prisoners who would be “able and willing to receive mail from the public,” Weiwei said the organization ignored them. requests for additional information regarding the exhibition of the work.

He wrote that Firstsite finally responded to a request from the Lisson Gallery, which represents him, earlier this month. He said the director of Firstsite explained that they could not include his project due to time constraints and because it did not fit the concept of the exhibition: to encourage people across the UK to create works of art and display them in their shop windows.

Weiwei said this response made no sense to him because, according to him, no deadline had been set for the delivery of the artwork and nothing prevented people from pasting the postcards on their Windows.

He wrote: “I think the reason has to do with Assange who has been in HM Belmarsh prison in London since his arrest on April 11, 2019, and that they don’t want to bring up a subject like Assange. “

In a statement, Sally Shaw, the director of Firstsite, repeated the reasons given to Weiwei as to why they chose not to include the work in the exhibition. She added, “I must assure you, sincerely, that this in no way reflects our appreciation for the idea itself, which is remarkable and profound, and also our esteem for Weiwei and his work.”

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