A work by the renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who has fallen into disgrace in his own country, will be showcased within the framework of the fourth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art.
The video work, created in 2005 and titled “Beijing: The Second Ring,” will have a particular resonance for Moscow when it is shown here in September as it explores the aura and the rhythm of the city. The Commissar of the Russian Biennale Josef Bakstein told Ria Novosti news agency that the decision to display the artist’s work was made on purely artistic grounds and was not political.
Although Ai Weiwei is best known for his involvement in the design of the Bird's Nest Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is it only one of dozens of projects he has worked on over his decades-long career.One of the key figures in Chinese contemporary art and also an architect, curator, designer, filmmaker, publisher and political activist, the 54-year-old Ai gained international acclaim in the early 1980s. Ai Weiwei, referred to as “the best artist to have appeared since the Cultural Revolution in China,” quickly became a victim of political repression in his own country for his harsh criticism of the Chinese Communist Party and of Chinese government policy. His civic stand made him a “dangerous criminal and a traitor” in the eyes of the authorities.
The artist has tried to spread his message via a blog and when the government closed it, Ai Weiwei got himself a "Twitter" account. His subversive activities on the Internet caused him significant difficulties in his home country.
Ai Weiwei has been arrested several times in China, and recently spent more than two months in detention before being freed on bail on June 22 this year. In January this year, the Chinese authorities ordered the demolition of the artist’s Beijing studio, offering no explanation for their actions.
Painful political and social themes appear in almost all of Ai Weiwei’s works. Dozens of installations and performances raise important questions of freedom, civil rights, morality and the value of human life. In October 2010, Ai unveiled a carpet of 100 million sunflower seeds made of porcelain at London's Tate Modern which, he said, “questioned the role of an individual in society”.
The Fourth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art will be held from September 23 until October 30 at two venues – Artplay Design Center and the exhibition halls of TSUM Art Foundation with the participation of around 80 artists from Russia and abroad. The art marathon will be curated by German artist Peter Waibel.