Ai Weiwei: ‘I never think about’ the Bird’s Nest

Controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who has been somewhat quiet since his release on bail last month, takes to the pages of Newsweek with a full-throated lament for what’s happened to his hometown: I feel sorry to say I have no favorite place in Beijing. I have no intention of going anywhere in the city. ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Image
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Image
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Image

Controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who has been somewhat quiet since his release on bail last month, takes to the pages of Newsweek with a full-throated lament for what's happened to his hometown:

I feel sorry to say I have no favorite place in Beijing. I have no intention of going anywhere in the city. The places are so simple. You don’t want to look at a person walking past because you know exactly what’s on his mind. No curiosity. And no one will even argue with you.

None of my art represents Beijing. The Bird’s Nest—I never think about it. After the Olympics, the common folks don’t talk about it because the Olympics did not bring joy to the people.

Controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who has been somewhat quiet since his release on bail last month, takes to the pages of Newsweek with a full-throated lament for what’s happened to his hometown:

I feel sorry to say I have no favorite place in Beijing. I have no intention of going anywhere in the city. The places are so simple. You don’t want to look at a person walking past because you know exactly what’s on his mind. No curiosity. And no one will even argue with you.

None of my art represents Beijing. The Bird’s Nest—I never think about it. After the Olympics, the common folks don’t talk about it because the Olympics did not bring joy to the people.

There are positives to Beijing. People still give birth to babies. There are a few nice parks. Last week I walked in one, and a few people came up to me and gave me a thumbs up or patted me on the shoulder. Why do they have to do that in such a secretive way? No one is willing to speak out. What are they waiting for? They always tell me, “Weiwei, leave the nation, please.” Or “Live longer and watch them die.” Either leave, or be patient and watch how they die. I really don’t know what I’m going to do.

Ai has distanced himself from what’s probably his best-known work before. Ai continually points out that he was not hired by the Chinese government to devise the Olympic stadium’s steel-lattice design, but by a Swiss design firm. He told the Guardian in 2008:

"I would rather be disconnected or forgotten… I hate the kind of feeling stirred up by promotion or propaganda … It’s the kind of sentiment when you don’t stick to the facts, but try to make up something, to mislead people away from a true discussion. It is not good for anyone."

 

Ai now appears to be openly violating the terms of his release from custody by speaking to the international media and restarting his Twitter feed. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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