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Thursday, 7 April 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

The case of Ai Weiwei in China

  Rui Tavares, author.(PT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I vividly recall the first time that I saw a work by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. At that time, in about 2000, I was a lecturer in Art History in Lisbon, and there, in an anthology of modern artists, was his enormous chandelier, the size of a room, overturned and broken. It was at once extremely beautiful and somewhat poignant and sad. This image somehow also reflects an image of China: able to show itself as sumptuous, rich, developed, and capable of presenting itself to the world, as in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. It is a sophisticated China, yet one with something seriously broken inside. That something is the will, free speech and the spirit of the Chinese people themselves.

Today, we have met to discuss the case of the artist Ai Weiwei, and we have asked the Chinese authorities to release him, to let him speak with his lawyer and his wife, and to make any accusations, if there are any which are true, and not charges trumped up on the spot. Above all, we have gathered here to say that this artist’s spirit of creativity, imagination and humour will surely survive much longer than that of his gaolers.

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