#aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei
From: Thursday, 11th April 2013
To: Saturday, 18 May 2013
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On 3 April 2011, as he was boarding a flight to Taipei, the Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei was arrested at Beijing Airport. Advised merely that his travel "could damage state security", he was escorted to a van by officials after which he disappeared for 81 days. On his release, the government claimed that his imprisonment related to tax evasion. Howard Brenton's new play is based on recent conversations with Ai in which he told the story of that imprisonment - by turns surreal, hilarious, and terrifying. A portrait of the Artist in extreme conditions, it is also an affirmation of the centrality of Art and of freedom of speech in civilised society.
18 April 2013
Howard Brenton's majestically simple, modest and beautifully presented new play is an art gallery installation based on a recently published book by journalist Barnaby Martin about the 81 days of detention endured by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
A celebrity tweeter with a "hooligan" tendency and a suspect reputation for big sales in a decadent Western market, Weiwei was arrested on trumped up charges of tax evasion, even though the authorities have come to realise that his cause is only reinforced by their actions; he currently lives at home in Beijing in what has been described as a state of suspended animation.
In becoming his own art work, he's now prompted this vividly Kafkaesque account (which is live-streamed free tomorrow evening on multiple platforms, including Whatsonstage.com) of incarceration, enforced silence, supervised loo visits - Weiwei takes a wee-wee - and aggressive interrogation.
But in the second act, Brenton shifts the emp...
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