Cultural Revolution

Ai Weiwei revives what China forgets

It's customary by now to describe Ai Weiwei as a dissident artist--which he is. His body of work is a decades-long critique of China's headlong attempt to become a modern economy without becoming a free society. If anything, he's more famous lately for his activism than for his art. And no doubt he's fine with that. What you learn from his new retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington--his first in the U.S.--is that increasingly his art is inseparable from his activism. His work of recent years is a succession of blows against the empire, a sustained demand that China's government...

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