“What can they do to me? Nothing more than to banish, kidnap, or imprison me. Perhaps they could fabricate my disappearance into thin air, but they don’t have any creativity or imagination. And they lack both joy and the ability to fly.”
-last blog post of Chinese Artist Ai WeiWei before his arrest
The Chinese artist and blogger – Ai WeiWei has been repeatedly censured and was once beaten within an inch of his life by his government in Beijing.
If you imagined his posts about his government were less than complimentary, you would be underestimating both his intent and his power.
Earlier this month he was arrested at the airport in Beijing and hasn’t been heard from since.
In his last interview before his arrest he said “Writers, artists, and commentators on websites are detained or thrown into jail when they reflect on democracy, opening up, reform and reason,” he said. “This is the reality of China.”
And Chinese politicians.. how quickly they change their tune.
Ai WeiWei was the artistic consultant to the architects of the famous Bird’s Nest stadium that was internationally celebrated when Beijing hosted the Olympics in 2008.
His blog was shut down by the authorities in 2009.
Coincidentally, his collected blog posts were published earlier this month by MIT Press.
Now, internationally, there are organized demonstrations calling for his release.
Salman Rushdie, himself vilified and the subject of a 1988 fatwa issued by no less than the Supreme Ruler of Iran – Ayatollah Khomeini himself – for allegedly portraying Islam in a negative light, is organizing protests and writing about the importance, and vulnerability of artists.
S0, while tweets come and go
And Facebook friends may be fickle.
Art transcends time.
And outlasts tyranny.
It is the artist’s ability to express their vision honestly, in their own unique voice or medium that gives it legitimacy. And resonance.
And the great ones live forever.