Ai Weiwei's Upcoming London Exhibition Will Have Everything But the Dissident Artist Himself

The celebrated Chinese artist was denied a business visa by the British government.


United Kingdom immigration officials have denied Ai Weiwei, the world-famous Chinese dissident artist, a "six-month business visa," which would have allowed him to attend the scheduled exhibition of his controversial work at the Royal Academy of Arts. 

As reported by The Guardian:

Ai spent 81 days in secret detention in 2011 after being seized by Chinese security agents during a crackdown on activists who Beijing feared were trying launch a "jasmine revolution".

He was subsequently ordered to pay a $2.4m fine for allegedly unpaid taxes although supporters said the penalty was a politically motivated punishment for the artist's fierce criticism of the Communist party.

Having confiscated Ai's passport in 2011, Chinese authorities finally returned the document last week, allowing him to leave the country for the first time in more than four years. On Thursday he boarded a plane from Beijing to Germany after obtaining a short-term Schengen visa that allows him to enter 26 European countries but not Britain.

Ai Weiwei was also unable to attend his first major showing in the U.S., which Reason TV reported on in 2013. Click above to watch that story, and here's the original writeup:

In October, Washington, D.C.'s Hirshhorn Museum opened Ai Weiwei: According to What?, the first major retrospective of works by the Chinese artist in North America. The show has received glowing reviews from art critics and visitors alike. The artist himself might share that view, if he ever gets the chance to see it.

"We had always hoped that he would be here for the opening," explains Kerry Brougher, chief curator at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. "Unfortunately, as we were in the middle of working with Ai Weiwei on the exhibition, he was arrested in China and incarcerated for 81 days."


Though Weiwei was released in June of 2011, the Chinese government's refusal to return his passport makes it unlikely that he will be allowed to visit his landmark show - the latest move in a series of conflicts between the artist and the state.

Whether chastising the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a "fake smile" to the world, detailing the deadly results of shoddy school construction after the Sichuan earthquake, or meticulously documenting the increasingly aggressive police measures used against him, the encounters between Weiwei and the Communist government seem to be in a constant state of escalation.

Weiwei's reputation has arguably grown larger despite - or because of - the Chinese government's attempts to rein him in. Without the benefit of a passport, Weiwei has increasingly turned to the internet to engage the wider world. He has found a receptive audience waiting for him.  

WeiWei Arrest

As Alison Klayman, director of the the critically acclaimed documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, tells it, "I think, for Weiwei, the one source for optimism does come from new technology and the Internet. [It's] the idea that people can express themselves, be connected, see things outside their own context - both within China and globally."

"There is a blurring of his internet activity and his art." says the Hirshorn's Brougher. "There is no direct dividing line between the sculptures that are in this gallery and what happens when he actually sends things out to the thousands of people that are following him."

Ai Weiwei: According to What? will remain in D.C. until the end of February, at which point the show is scheduled to move to Indianapolis, Toronto, Miami, and eventually New York. There is, as yet, no word whether the artist himself might be as free to travel.

Shot, edited, and produced by Meredith Bragg. Narrated by Nick Gillespie.

About 5:45 minutes.

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  1. You know who else denied travel to dissident foreigners...

    1. Read "In Search of History", Teddy White.
      The US pulled his passport in the '50s, since he'd written about Red China.

  2. What's Mandarin for "Barbara Streisand"?

    1. I believe it's the same as for wood chipper.

    2. "Not 'Barbara'. BALBLA!"

  3. OT: When will our national nightmare end?

    1. Poachers are going to wipe out all of the wildlife in Africa before very much longer.

      1. 1) Have they no pride?

        2) #WildLivesMatter

      1. So true,no jobs,money's worth nothing,no rule of law.Mugabe has ruined that country.I do not see how the U.S. could send that doctor to a country that has no real legal system. It would be a show trail from soviet days.

        1. They'd probably be happy accepting a wheelbarrow worth of cash. US dollars, of course.

    2. "I'm not dead yet!"

      Never mind. World breathes a sigh of relief.

    3. oh, you beat me to it.

    4. Stapelkamp said readings from Jericho's GPS tag indicated he was moving around as usual and appeared to be with a female.

      And then he raped her.

      1. Now she's going to walk around the forest with a mattress strapped to her back.

        1. I thought lions fucked on dead giraffes, not mattresses.

    5. Never mind that, what happened to YouTube star Fred Friendly, the Raccoon? He hiding out w any of you?

  4. So John Kerry will not rule out the possibility that Obama will ignore a Congressional override of his veto of the Iran deal and implement it any way. If that happens and I have no doubt he would do that, consider this. Hilary is crashing and burning. A good number of Democrats are trying to draft Biden. If Obama pulled that stunt, threaten him with impeachment and get him to resign. He hates being President anyway. Then run Biden as an incumbent. It wwould be their best shot at holding the White House.

    1. I saw that a few days ago.

      "...threaten him with impeachment..."

      You are a funny man John, a funny man.

      1. You need Democrat votes in the Senate to convict. Not gonna happen.

        I say, target someone who has provoked bipartisan wrath with her illegal behavior. Like the prosecutors (and judges) who prosecute people growing medical MJ in compliance with state law. There's a Congressional budget provision that no money can be spend on obstructing such state laws. Impeach these bums for (a) Violating the anti-Deficiency act and (b) unconstitutionally drawing money from the Treasury without a Congressional appropriation.




    3. Biden has no identity politics to run on. He's an old straight white Catholic male. They may as well go with Martin O'Malley.

      1. Or they could look at . For whatever reason, Emperor Caesar is listed as the 1st candidate for the Democrats' nom for prez.

        1. Sorry, should've narrowed it down to the only 87 Democrats running for 2016:

    4. If he so obviously usurps the constitution then impeaching him will be prudent and necessary. Furthermore, it might remind voters of Clinton's impeachment and undermine Hillary. I suspect most have forgotten that Bill Clinton was impeached. If an obviously valid impeachment is matched with the growing discontent for Obama and the disgust with Hillary, then we might see some movement of the electorate against incompetence and corruption. But, then again, I may be engaging in wishful thinking.

  5. China has a lot of problems.They have a bubble economy built on cheap exports and a real estate bubble.Most people are poor and the government spends as much,it is thought,on internal security as defence. The army is corrupt and the polution,well ,enough said.And their one child policy is leaving them with a shortage of women and young workers and no real property rights .I don't see the power house that many think they will become

    1. I agree. China has massive financial, social, and environmental problems.

      1. Won't stop the government from picking fights with foreigners - "hey, look over there!"

        1. Actually, it makes it more likely that they will pick fights with foreigners.

          See: Argentina and the Malvinas...I mean Faulkland Islands.

          1. I think you mean "Maldives"

            /B. Obama

  6. What is it with the UK and denying visas? Criticize Islam, and you can't visit. Criticize China, and you can't visit. But if you're a preacher of violent radical Islam, hey, you're a poor unfortunate refugee! Bring your whole family and stay in this mansion we'll have the taxpayers provide for you!

    1. I know,let's send them Donald Trump.

    2. Don't forget the UK denying visas to pick up artists. Because they're major threats to female safety or some shit.

    1. ""The natural law in lion society is that when a male dies and his weakened coalition is usurped, the new incoming males kill their predecessors' cubs."

      1. How do they even know which ones those are, let alone know enough to do that?

        1. It's entirely instinctual. No learning required. Then the females go into heat.

          So female lions find infanticide a turn on. It's enough to shake your faith in a benevolent nature.

          1. How could they instinctually know whose cubs are whose father's?

            1. In lion society only the alpha male of the pride gets to mate with the females. So any cubs in the pride came from the current - or recently deceased - alpha. It doesn't take much instinct to figure that out.

    2. Women ,children and minorities most effected

    3. When I was just a baby
      My Mama told me, "Son
      Always be a good boy
      Don't ever play with guns, "
      But I shot a lion in Zimbabwe
      Just to watch him die
      When I hear that whistle blowin'
      I hang my head and cry

  7. The wording of this article is a little slippery. According to the link below, the original decision was to restrict his visa to 20 days, not to deny him a visa entirely. And yesterday, the Home Office extended it to the normal 6 months.

    Ai Weiwei granted six-month UK visa by home secretary

  8. Its a Bird, Its a Plane, Its.....oh

    1. Another candidate for the party of old white males cuckoldesses.

    2. Oh boy, that would be interesting. An old white plagiarist who regularly sticks his foot in his mouth. Yeah, he's going to really motivate those millennials and minorities....

  9. Forget all the bitching about it around here; Ian McShane joins Game of Thrones. For a small part, anyway.

    1. He'd be perfect as Euron Greyjoy, who probably will debut on the show next season given the casting call announcements. The article says he's playing an important character despite not having a ton of screen time, which would fit into the type of character Euron is in the books (for spoilerish reasons).

  10. Hell has frozen over! Matthew Yglesias said something 100% accurate about automation, and then the Federalist wrote a dumb article criticizing Yglesias for something he got right.

    Yglesias said:

    "'None of the recent problems in the American economy are due to robots.'"

    To which the Federalist responded:

    "This is patently false. In "Average Is Over," Tyler Cowen cites "the increasing productivity of intelligent machines" as a partial explanation for the labor market troubles young people experience today. What is more, the low-wages, persistent unemployment, and other economic maladies currently plaguing the young are all, according to Cowen, a "harbinger of the new world of work to come.""

    Bullshit - the decline occurred after the economic collapse. You can't blame issues with 'persistent unemployment' on automation when persistent unemployment only became a problem after a financial crisis. If it were the result of automation, you would have seen unemployment going up over an extended period of time, which didn't occur.

    1. Del Spooner writes for the Federalist?

    2. So what? Businesses aren't going to get rid of robots out of the kindness of their hearts. If I was a young person with no skills, I would start thinking about getting some.

      1. True, but in times past, menial entry-level jobs, now being automated out of existence, were a major avenue for gaining skills. And unlike college, it didn't require a subsidy from the govt or parents.

        1. I personally think the major driving factor behind teenagers not working is the massive increase in occupational licensing. Some 17 year old isn't going to spend 4 months getting the licensing necessary to do a job.

          1. I actually think its mexicans, and regulations creating incentives to use them under the table

          2. Not to mention that a lot of jobs that are really menial now all but require a college degree.

          3. Some 17 year old isn't going to spend 4 months getting the licensing necessary to do a job.

            If they're not going to do it then, when are they going to do it? Are you saying this is a problem particularly for teens?

            1. I thought he was snarking that by the time a 17 year old gets around to finally completing that 4 month certification he/she will be 18 or 19 - thus, no 17 year old would do it .

      2. Businesses aren't going to get rid of robots out of the kindness of their hearts. If I was a young person with no skills, I would start thinking about getting some.

        Some skills or some robots?

        1. Depends on the robots.

    3. So, they repeat an assertion made by some economist with no real evidence.

      I think all economists should be required to wear a robe and a tall pointy hat adorned with suns, moons, and stars. Also, when they make their assertions and predictions they should have a crystal ball in front of them or maybe some tarot cards spread out.

      1. re: the professional term "economist"

        I think people throw it out all the time as though its supposed to make sense *by itself*

        ""Why, he's *an economist*! How can you dispute his claims?!"

        but they fail to appreciate that there's really no such thing as a generic "economist"...rather, people who serve as 'economists' for very specific institutions and their purposes

        you can be sure that the 'Chief Economist' for Goldman Sachs has a very different set of objectives from the 'Chief Economist' for the NLRB

        And economists in academia similarly tend to have narrow areas of core focus, and rarely offer better insights on business-matters than people in industry themselves. Their careers certainly dont *depend* on their being right more often than not, the way they do for economists at banks.

        The way journalists treat 'economists' is like saying, "but he's a Doctor!".... and getting a Podiatrist to offer ideas on treatment for Ebola.

        i.e. They lack the ability to discriminate between people who can offer very sound insights to the subject matter at hand... and just random people who are willing to opine for the sake of getting their quotes in print.

        1. But...but...but... Krugman!

  11. Can we get some recognition of these weeks entry for Alt Texas champion?! Well done, Anthony L. Fisher.

    Maybe a golden woodchipper award is headed your way.

    1. "Alt-Texas"

      Like, Austin?

      1. crap. phone crap.

  12. In other Asian news: Japanese journalist pulls a 'Weiner' in Thailand

    [He] had meant to send the picture to a female friend, but instead uploaded it through popular messaging app Line to about 150 journalists [, prompting] a vomiting emoji from one group member

    Ah, so.

    1. Japanese have very small penis,not like your large American penis,

      1. ah so.

    2. Not just a 'journalist', but ""Bangkok bureau chief ""

      I have no idea why I've never taken a picture of my junk and sent it out in the digital ether to preserved forever. I mean, it would seem the logical thing to do.

      Instead I shall have mine cast in bronze.

        1. Her own website is a BIG improvement on the Wikipedia entry

          She seems like a good time

          1. I figured you could get there from my link. Besides, all-Flash websites are never an improvement on anything, these days.

            1. It's not bad for Flash. In this case, it was worth it.

              1. I know, right? it really was. the space-dicks, and the jizz-text-boxes were inspired in a very low-tech, 1990s-internet kind of way

      1. Sounds like a good way to avoid STDs.

  13. New Taliban leader trying to put new, friendly face on the movement

    This isn't your Father's, old-fashioned Taliban! =

    ""In the name of jihad, the killing of innocent people is not Islamic. We need to win the hearts of people, then we can rule their hearts," he said."

    Oh, but if only you'd thought of that *sooner*, before your massacred those schoolkids and set their teachers on fire. Whoops?!

    "Mansour confirmed that one of his deputies was Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of renowned jihadi leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the fearsome Haqqani militant network blamed for some of Afghanistan's deadliest suicide attacks."

    ""We're new! We're friendly! and yes, my director of operations murdered most of your family for allowing the infidel to dig a well in your village, but Hey~! Allah Can Be Fun, Too!""

    1. "We need to win the hearts of people, then we can rule their hearts," he said."

      Uh huh. This is their idea of a friendly face. He openly says "First we put on a mask, then we stomp their face".


      1. It probably sounded better in the original Pashtun

  14. Unsurprisingly little coverage of a pro-Confederate flag rally about 15 minutes from my home (if I was in town for more than 48 or so hours I might be there).

    What little media coverage there is offers "balance" with a handful of RCP counter-protestors but it still appears to be more African-Americans on the pro-flag side.

    I can't find a single comprehensive news story yet.

    1. Somewhere I see hillary steepling her hands and going, "eeeexcelllent"

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