No Passport, No U.S. Visit For Ai Weiwei

In a telephone interview, Ai Weiwei has told The New York Times that he would likely miss the opening of his exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, as well as several other scheduled appearances in the United States next month, because Chinese authorities still have not returned his passport:

“They’re still holding my passport,” Mr. Ai said. “They said they want to give it to me but have no clear time schedule for that.”

Mr. Ai was detained for 81 days last year and put on probation for one year after his release. That probation ended June 21. Mr. Ai said at the time that police officers in Beijing had told him that he could not leave China, but that he would soon have his passport returned.

“I think it’s that the person who’s responsible for my case didn’t get a clear order from above,” he said. “And maybe the people from above are busy with much more important issues.”

In a preview for an article which will appear in this week’s Huffington iPad magazine, Gazelle Emami sat down with Ai Weiwei at his Beijing studio:

Of everything discussed in an 80-minute interview at Ai Weiwei’s studio on the outskirts of Beijing -– including his 81-day detention in April last year, the government’s iron hold on his passport and the tax case that would never end–nothing roused the dissident artist so much as his fellow Chinese artists who stayed silent during his disappearance, while the Western art world cried, “Where is Ai Weiwei?”

“Zhang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun, Zeng Fanzhi, Xu Bing, Liu Xiaodong,” Ai lists off casually, as if he were taking attendance instead of denouncing China’s power art players.

See also Ai Weiwei’s take on “contemporary Chinese art”, as well as recent profiles of Ai and his former protege Zhao Zhao in Smithsonian Magazine and Spiegel, respectively, all via CDT.