onsdag 22. april 2020

Dissident artist Ai Weiwei says virus has only strengthened China's 'police state'

As the world grapples with unprecedented lockdown measures, Ai Weiwei finds himself in familiar territory. The outspoken artist spent nearly three months in a tiny room while detained by authorities in China in 2011. He was later accused of tax evasion, a charge widely interpreted as punishment for his political activism. Following his release, Ai's passport was confiscated, and he was placed under close surveillance in Beijing.

In Cambridge, England, where the 62-year-old dissident now resides, self-isolation has stirred similar feelings of solitude. "You (feel) disassociated, you're dysfunctioning and you're uncertain about your own future ... you're trying to imagine behaving in relation to others," he said, over the phone, of restrictions implemented to contain the coronavirus.Ai has been critical of China's handling of the outbreak, which was first identified in the city of Wuhan and has since spread to more than 210 countries and territories, infecting over 2.5 million people. In a recent opinion piece for The Art Newspaper, he argued that the ruling Communist Party's containment tactics have proven the "effectiveness of authoritarian rules," while other countries' inability to control the pandemic has exposed the "disadvantages and malpractices of free and democratic societies."