Here writ large is why The Internet is so important to freedom. Read the article and see there are people all over the world who want to simply SAY their hearts and minds. Artist Ai Weiwei from China is being persecuted for just that.
It is at this time of the “closing of America”, still politically safe to reveal negatives about China and Ai Weiwei is a widely supported art and political dissident figure. And yet with the last 10 years of Patriot Acts 1 & 2, suspension of Habeas Corpus, Executive Powers to declare anyone an Enemy Combatant, a danger to security, to without warrant or charges and to arrest and detain indefinitely, citizens of the USA in the vast majority would be unbelieving that these same tactics have been and are being used against us. I think it serves the Western “democracies” political purposes to embrace victims of Chinese persecution while they mask the fact that our own highly democratized countries have been in a State of Emergency (signed and extended each and every year for the past 10 by the sitting president) which amounts to Martial Law. Now laws are being formulated to complete the censorship (the president already has a “kill switch”) of The Internet in the USA, as Senator Lieberman said, ‘like China.’
These articles and videos reveal a true artist who has compassion and courage. (Warning, there is some nudity in some of his art, you should expect that of artists, in case you didn’t want to see it. This however is not at all titillating or pornographic and much more decent in my humble opinion than the fully clothed yet suggestive images of Hollywood & popular culture).
Ai: I often ask myself this. Why did I become the No. 1 enemy of the state? During my detention even, they kept asking me: Ai Weiwei, what is the reason you have become like this today? My answer is: First, I refuse to forget. My parents, my family, their whole generation and my generation all paid a great deal in the struggle for freedom of speech. Many people died just because of one sentence or even one word. Somebody has to take responsibility for that. If a nation cannot face its past, it has no future. I started to ask questions.
Ai: My definition of art has always been the same. It is about freedom of expression, a new way of communication. It is never about exhibiting in museums or about hanging it on the wall. Art should live in the heart of the people. Ordinary people should have the same ability to understand art as anybody else. I don’t think art is elite or mysterious. I don’t think anybody can separate art from politics. The intention to separate art from politics is itself a very political intention. I definitely know people who are shameless enough to give up basic values. I see this kind of art, and when I see it I feel ashamed. In China they treat art as some form of decoration, a self-indulgence. It is pretending to be art. It looks like art. It sells like art. But it is really a piece of shit.
End 2nd Excerpt.
Here is PBS Frontline 17 minute video by a very young & idealisc journalist detailing Ai Weiwei’s disillusion with the 2008 Olympics “Bird Nest” stadium project and much more that made the Chinese authorities very uncomfortable and lead to his beating and arrest.
Also this London Guardian article covers
” Ai Weiwei’s democratic cry
The Chinese artist is on the point of becoming a figure of serious global importance in the mould of Vaclav Havel and Alexander Solzhenitsyn”
His insistence on the universal desire for democracy is not exactly fashionable among some western liberals. A decade of war in the name of such universal values has strengthened the voices of those who seek to muddy this clearest of issues. It is sometimes seen as narrow-minded, even racist, to denounce anti-democratic regimes or even terrorist networks.
In his book Waiting for the Etonians, the journalist Nick Cohen lambasts British artists who, he says, just spout a party line and never defend true liberal values such as democracy. Well, credit to Tate Modern for supporting an artist who is – with great calm – telling the relativists of the west to wake up and value what is good in our political system.