Maximo Caminero has been charged with allegedly destroying an artwork by Ai Weiwei at the Perez Art Museum in Miami. The local artist picked up and smashed the million dollar work from Ai’s 2006 series Colour Vases in protest against the museum’s lack of local artist displays. He now faces felony criminal mischief charges. It’s a curious case of life imitating art; one of Ai’s most notorious works, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995) is a series of three silver gelatin prints featuring the artist doing just that. Describing his protest, Caminero stated: “I was at PAMM and saw Ai Weiwei’s photos behind the vases where he drops an ancient Chinese vase and breaks it. And I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest.” The act was apparently spontaneous.
(And if you’re interested in seeing some of Ai Weiwei’s Colour Vases in the flesh, there is a suite of them in QAG/GoMA’s collection)
Turns out Italian art writer and curator Francesco Bonami isn’t a big Ai Weiwei fan. The former Venice Biennale Curator and Flash Art Editor had this to say in a recent interview with Marina Cashdan for Artsy:
MC: Were there any pavilions or collateral events [in Venice] that you were surprised by, in a good or not good way?
FB: I hate Ai Weiwei. I think he should be put in jail for his art, and not for his dissidence … lukewarm dissidence, because a real dissident, you don’t hear about them any longer, you know? They just throw away the keys.
MC: And you don’t think he’s helping “real” dissidents?
FB: I don’t think he’s helped the real dissidents, and I think he exploits his dissidence in favor of promoting his art.
Earlier this year Ai Weiwei announced that he was making a heavy metal album in response to his 2011 detention. It’s now been released, along with a music video for the album’s first single, ‘Dumbass’. The clip directly addresses the artist’s incarceration, and even includes an ‘inch accurate’ portrayal of Ai’s former cell. The artist described the music making process as a form of ‘self therapy’, though judging from the outcome it might have been a process best conducted in private. The whole thing is, frankly, awful. (It’s pretty questionable on the ‘metal’ front too). Don’t quit your day job Ai!
Believe it or not, Ai Weiwei’s set to release an album – of heavy metal music no less. The idea came to the artist during his detention in 2011 when bored prison guards would ask him to sing songs. “I felt so sad I couldn’t sing any except the revolutionary ones we had to learn when we were growing up” he said. “After I came out, I realised I had never really listened to music or sung, so I decided to make an album”.
Weiwei has collaborated with his rock musician friend Zuoxiao Zuzhou (who was briefly questioned during the artist’s detention) and contributes lyrics and vocals to the as yet untitled album. Needless to say he’s designing the cover art too. The 9 track LP is currently being mixed and Weiwei is seeking advice from his good pal Elton John on how best to distribute it. And what do the songs themselves sound like? Weiwei says; “Some are like heavy metal, some are more punkish, and some are more pop.” He’s even started working on a second album as well, an altogether ‘softer’ affair involving a suite love songs.
The Guardian has commissioned a whole bunch of artists (including Urs Fisher, Ai Weiwei and Martin Creed) to make a series of free Christmas-themed screensavers, downloadable from their website. Featured artist Cory Arcangel’s suggestion to ‘relax, it’s just the holidays’ seems particularly timely. Check out the full suite here.
Gangnam Style is a rather horrific pop tune by South Korean rapper Psy that in recent weeks has gone viral, spawning a plethora of Gangnam memes. And now Ai Weiwei has jumped on the bandwagon, posting his own version of Psy’s signature pony dance. The ebullient artist and his posse look like they’re having a hoot, but Ai also spikes his frenetic dancing with a provocation. In several scenes he brandishes handcuffs, hinting at the Chinese government’s attempts to restrict his freedom. This latest video is yet another example of the artist thumbing his nose at authority, and having a jolly good time while he does it.
Ai Weiwei has been ordered by Chinese officials to stay away from his own court hearing in Beijing tomorrow. Fined 15 million yuan last year for alleged tax evasion, the dissident artist will instead be sending his wife Lu Qing to contest the charges. His case is further hindered by the disappearance yesterday of his lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, who was taken away by security officials and hasn’t been seen since. The artist himself remains housebound, with over 30 police vehicles currently surrounding his studio (one of Ai’s assistants was injured while attempting to document the scene). Despite this, the artist remains in good spirits, even posting photos of himself on Twitter in a decidedly too small police uniform.