New Ai Weiwei exhibition unveiled in Berlin but artist can't attend

Wed Apr 2, 2014 2:54pm EDT
 
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By Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's biggest solo show, featuring a reproduction of the white cell where he was held for 81 days by Chinese authorities, was unveiled on Wednesday in Berlin without Ai in attendance because the government still has his passport.

"Ai Weiwei - Evidence", which sprawls through 18 rooms at the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum, is a deeply political exhibition of his conceptual art. It opens on Thursday, exactly three years after he was arrested and held in detention.

A white bedroom with foam-covered walls and surveillance cameras reproduces his prison cell.

An outspoken critic of the Chinese government's record on free speech and human rights, Ai did not attend the show's news conference as the Chinese government retained his passport after his release.

"I may have a chance to come to the show, I hope this can be possible, but I don't know," the bearded artist said via video message.

His detention prompted an international outcry and Germany was among those countries that have asked for his release.

"Germany is a place that gives me a lot of support," said Ai, who was awarded a professorship in absentia at Berlin's University of the Arts in 2011.

German curator Gereon Sievernich, who visited the artist in his studio on the outskirts of Beijing, said Ai created several installations specifically for the show.   Continued...

 
People walk beside an advertising poster for the exhibition 'Evidence' by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at the Martin-Gropius Bau in Berlin, April 2, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch