Artist Zhao Zhao: ‘I Try To Resist Being Tamed’

Last year, a number of works by the artist Zhao Zhao were confiscated by Chinese customs officials on their way to an exhibition in New York. On Friday, a new exhibition of his work opened in Berlin, with the artist in attendance. At Spiegel Online, Ulrike Knöfel asks the former assistant to Ai Weiwei whether the authorities have “tamed” him:

SPIEGEL: [… Y]ou have been permitted to travel to Berlin where you have an exhibition opening and will soon be part of an exhibition at the Museum for Asian Art. How is that possible?

Zhao: Perhaps I am creating the impression that I am no longer such a major troublemaker.

SPIEGEL: Is that impression correct?

Zhao: One or two years ago, it was hardly possible for me to exhibit my work. Since then, I have been trying to be more of an artist and less of an activist. I have my language as an artist. In July I had another show in Beijing, but we didn’t know until the last minute whether another ban would be imposed. On the day of the opening, we darkened the gallery rooms and the guests couldn’t see my work — or at least only with the light of their mobile phones.

[…] SPIEGEL: In Berlin, you are also showing a painting that shows Ai Weiwei in an interrogation situation. It’s astounding that you’ve been able to take it out of the country.

Zhao: I don’t know how my art dealer did that.