Saturday, August 4, 2018
Ai Weiwei's Beijing studio razed by Chinese authorities
Aug 4 2018
A Beijing art studio used by dissident artist Ai Weiwei has been torn down, with a giant excavator demolishing walls and workers moving away his art.
A frequent critic of the Government, Ai says on his Instagram account the demolition began on Friday without prior notice.
He posted videos of an excavator smashing the windows of his "Zuoyou" studio.
Located in the north-east Beijing suburbs, the "Left and Right" art studio had been Ai's primary workspace since 2006.
It is unclear whether the demolition is targeting Ai.
Beijing authorities have demolished large swaths of the suburbs in the past year in a building safety campaign, typically giving at least several days' notice.
The rental contract for the space expired last year, head manager Ga Rang told Reuters, but it was not possible to move items out at the time due to the large quantity and size of the artworks stored in the space.
The sudden demolition came seven years after Ai's Shanghai space was bulldozed in 2011.
The same year Ai was detained without any charge and held mainly in solitary confinement, sparking an international outcry.
A court later upheld a $3.2 million fine against Ai for tax evasion.
Ai, often described as China's most high-profile artist, a dissident and a political activist, has become a vocal campaigner on migration.
In 2016 he visited migrant camps in Greece to film a documentary about the refugee crisis, and has also set up a studio on Lesbos, the island where nearly a million migrants entered the European Union last year.
In March, Ai presented his 60-metre-long inflatable raft, carrying about 300 oversized human figures in Sydney, a day after China removed the term limits from its constitution, raising concerns about a return to strongman rule.