Tuesday, Apr. 05, 2011

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei does not shy away from controversy. His recent detention at Beijing's airport was just one of several times Ai has been jailed and abused because of his powerful art. Among the human-rights activist's controversial works is a collection of photos called "Study of Perspective," which show Ai giving the finger to cultural and political power centers including Tiananmen and the White House. While he has gained a network of supporters worldwide, he has been met in his homeland with severe persecution from the notoriously restrictive Chinese government. In a particularly gruesome incident, Ai allegedly was so badly beaten by the police he required brain surgery. Still, he has not quit. His continued resistance led him to be put under house arrest in November 2010, ostensibly to prevent him from attending a party at his studio in Shanghai. (The studio was later demolished by the government.) In a recent interview with TED founder Chris Anderson, Ai said, "I'm living in a society where freedom of speech is not allowed ... I'm trying to involve my art with society, to build possibility."