Ai Weiwei: The Voice Of Treason

Newsweek Magazine has interviewed artist/activist Ai Weiwei about his detention earlier this year and government requirements that he pay $2.4 million in back taxes:

Desperate for interaction, Ai began to needle the guards to provoke a response. But they “just sat and stared at me with no expression. They were very young, and clean, and emotionless, like you were not there,” he says. With nothing to do, Ai paced back and forth in his cell, covering some 600 miles and losing almost 30 pounds during his 81 days of confinement. “All I wanted was a dictionary, even the simplest one.” Passing the time was “impossible,” he says. “I really wished someone could beat me. Because at least that’s human contact. Then you can see some anger. But to dismiss emotion, to be cut off from any reason, or anger, or fear, psychologically that’s very threatening.”

Since his release, Ai has been hesitant to go public with details about his imprisonment, other than to crack jokes about how it helped reduce his famous bulk. One friend says Ai is much more intense than before. Ai himself won’t elaborate on how the experience changed him, or on how it influenced his creative work, only saying, “I know what it’s like inside. It’s like a dark world.”

Read more about Ai’s detention and about reactions from him and his supporters to the tax bill.