Chinese Art Star Ai Weiwei Detained One Month Before Major Public Installation in New York

04/05/2011 1:40 PM |

An apt image from Ai Weiweis Study of Perspective series (1995-2003).
  • An apt image from Ai Weiwei’s “Study of Perspective” series (1995-2003).

On Sunday, as he was attempting to leave China from Beijing’s airport, Ai Weiwei and his wife were detained and though she’s been released, the most famous Chinese contemporary artist’s whereabouts remain unknown.

The international art star and outspoken critic of the Chinese government has been arrested, detained, beaten and placed under house arrest in the past. The Washington Post reports that this most recent detainment follows a major crackdown by Chinese authorities on activists, artists, writers and lawyers trying to organize mass protests in China of the sort that have destabilized governments throughout the Middle East this year. Ai had been keeping a public record of others arrested trying to organize these protests on Twitter, where he’s a ubiquitous presence with almost 75,000 followers, but hasn’t tweeted since Sunday. Police raided Ai and his wife’s home, confiscating documents, hard drives and computers.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the public installation of his massive twelve-part sculptural installation around the Pulitzer Fountain outside the Plaza Hotel will continue as planned. The piece, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, is being installed by the Chelsea-based arts organization AW Asia, and will be on view at the southeast corner of Central Park from May 2 through July 15. Ai is expected to be in New York during the first week of May for the public opening, assuming he’s been released by then.