Getting Over Ai Weiwei

There are, though, significant dangers in the upholding of Ai as our sole representative/mediator of artistic resistance to authority within China. While Ai’s bluntly confrontational and often bombastic stance can be readily digested within Western liberal-democratic contexts where romantic notions of heroic dissent in the face of overwhelming power still persist, it is by no means representative of the critical positioning of most other Chinese artists. Ai may have situated himself admirably behind enlightened westernized ideals of freedom and openness, but the sheer bluntness and reductive simplicity of his critical approach to authority have effectively foreclosed a more searching discussion of contemporary art within China as well as the complex, web of localized cultural, social, political and economic forces that surround its production and reception.

Arts, Politics