Among the many who disappeared after Beijing read an internet post about organizing protests, Ai Weiwei probably has the highest profile. An artist who has found some success abroad, the political undertones to his work clearly angered someone in Zhongnanhai- and now he’s gone.
Today the New York Times has an article about an art show in Hong Kong, which still maintains far greater freedoms than the mainland. One of Ai’s pieces was there, and the arts community is clearly rallying around him:
The Hong Kong International Art Fair ended this week with a record 63,500 visitors and top sales driven in part by wealthy Chinese buyers.
But there were no signs that the local Hong Kong government or event organizers had buckled under pressure to remove contentious materials that might have been off-putting to Beijing.
The art fair included a single work by the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was detained on April 3 trying to board a flight from Beijing to Hong Kong and is being held in a secret location. “Marble Arm,” a life-sized arm and hand, its middle finger stretched upward in a vulgar gesture, served as a small symbol of dissent at the booth of Galerie Urs Meile , which has branches in Switzerland and Beijing. Laid casually on a black coffee table where buyers and sellers hashed out high-priced deals, the work, like most at the fair, sold.
The gallery also handed out Ai Weiwei flyers, buttons and T-shirts. Some young visitors pulled the shirts on and wore them around the event.