China slams art magazine for honoring Ai Weiwei

BEIJING Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:19am EDT

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei speaks to members of the media in the doorway of his studio after he was released on bail in Beijing June 23, 2011. REUTERS/David Gray

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei speaks to members of the media in the doorway of his studio after he was released on bail in Beijing June 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Thursday criticized a U.K.-based contemporary art magazine for naming dissident artist Ai Weiwei as the art world's most powerful figure, saying the selection based on "political bias" runs contrary to the magazine's principles.

Ai, whose 81-day detention earlier this year caused an international outcry, topped ArtReview's 10th annual "Power 100" list on Thursday.

Mark Rappolt, editor of ArtReview, had said the choice of Ai, famous for his "Bird's Nest" Olympic Stadium in Beijing and a recent installation at London's Tate Modern gallery comprising millions of replica porcelain sunflower seeds, by a panel of experts was not political.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin was skeptical.

"China has many artists who have sufficient ability. We feel that a selection that is based purely on a political bias and perspective has violated the objectives of the magazine," Liu told a regular news briefing.

Ai was released in late June after he was taken from the Beijing airport and held in two secret locations.

Under the conditions of his release, Ai is not allowed to be interviewed by journalists and use the Internet. He has gone largely silent since he wrote a commentary in late August, criticizing Chinese officials for denying citizens their basic rights.

When Ai was released on bail, the Chinese government said he remained under investigation for suspicion of economic crimes, including tax evasion. Ai told Reuters earlier that he had not received a formal notice from the authorities to explain the allegation of suspected economic crimes.

His family says he was targeted by authorities for his criticism of censorship and Communist Party controls.

Ai has gone back to creating art, giving art direction via Skype for a series of photos for W magazine, an American fashion magazine, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Sabrina Mao and Sui-Lee Wee, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher)

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Comments (1)
in-the-money wrote:
If you browse through China’s web forums often, you would notice that not a whole lot people in China care about Ai. Most people are concerned about making money, food safety, and their next gadget. For the elite few, most of them think of Ai as eccentric (well, aren’t most “artists” are?), self-absorbed attention-seeker. It’s the western media, for reasons we can imagine, that hype up the stories on Ai. ‘nough said.

Oct 13, 2011 1:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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