Last Olympics, he was behind the stadium Fuglereiret. Ai Weiwei is now living in exile after pointing the finger at the Chinese authorities once too much.
After 30 years of growth and reforms, China was ready to show its new face to the world during the 2008 Summer Olympics. Much of historic Beijing, with its hutongs, old residential quarters, was cut down.
A huge metal nest rose from the ashes. The construction of the new Olympic building was integrated into the building, and around the organic form, the free areas were open. China’s international art icon Ai Weiwei helped design the building.
The artist’s idea was that the stadium should convey the message that freedom is possible. The open construction told a story of transparency and democracy.
But as the games approached, Ai Weiwei did not think these were values that were reflected in the society around him. Rather, the toys were used as nationalist propaganda.
Instead of celebrating the triumph with the Bird’s Nest, Ai Weiwei distanced himself from the entire Olympics and dived into other projects. They constantly teased about troublesome issues the Chinese authorities wanted to sweep away before the sports party.
Why were Chinese children served milk powder with melamine, which damages the kidneys?
Why did the school buildings fall like house of cards over the school children during the earthquake in Wenchuan in the spring of 2008?
How could a man be executed for police murder when the trial lacked real defense?
He shaped the questions as works of art, documentaries, “public investigations” or critical remarks on Twitter.
– I ask my questions in a weak voice. Nevertheless, the questions become pervasive in such a political environment, says Ai Weiwei, who A-magazine interviews via e-mail.
A more powerful China today
In February, a new Olympics is coming up. Since recently, Ai Weiwei’s confrontations with the authorities have had consequences. Now he observes the toys from exile in Europe and sees a completely different China invite the world in again.
– More confident, stronger and more openly willing to be challenged by Europe and the United States. It is very different from last time, says Ai.
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