Volume 81, Number 7 | July 14 - 20, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Photo by Clayton Patterson
Ai Weiwei painting a woman’s portrait on Sixth Ave. near W. Fourth St. in 1990.
Weiwei ‘doing well,’ message from Beijing to L.E.S. says
On April 3, Ai Weiwei, the prominent Chinese artist and political activist, was arrested by police at the Beijing airport. After being held more than two months without any formal charges — there were allusions to “economic crimes,” meaning tax evasion — he was released on bail on June 22. The government now says he owes $1.85 million in taxes and fines, and an Internet fundraising effort is afoot to help him raise the funds. Weiwei’s arrest is seen as retaliation for his outspoken criticism of the Chinese government on democracy and human rights. He was the artistic consultant on the design of the Beijing National Stadium, a.k.a. the “Bird’s Nest,” for the 2008 Olympics, a symbol of Chinese national pride. On Mon., July 12, Lower East Side documentarian Clayton Patterson received an e-mail from Weiwei’s studio. “He’s doing well,” Patterson reported. “He’s at home, but unable to leave Beijing for up to a year. The government has restricted him in his Internet use and from giving interviews. He used to have a blog — it was worldwide.” Patterson noted that the DVD he sent Weiwei of the L.E.S. documentarian’s recent biopic, “Captured,” for Weiwei to do the Chinese subtitles, was missing after authorities combed through his studio. Initially, his computers were also confiscated by the Chinese government. “They got his computers and archives back,” Patterson said, “but I’m sure the police duplicated everything.” Patterson said he’ll send Weiwei another “Captured” DVD and also a copy of the photo on this page; back around 1990, Weiwei earned money by painting portraits on Sixth Ave. near the W. Fourth St. basketball courts. Weiwei, in turn, told Patterson he’ll send him a photo that he has of him.