Ai Weiwei Responds to Chinese Authorities Destroying His Beijing Studio
Lest we forget what authoritarian regimes do when confronted with dissent:
“Free speech and free expression have simply never existed in China or in its artist communities,” Ai told NPR. “Those who do not belong to the establishment, including artists, are always the first to be discriminated against and sacrificed. Often, the authorities face no consequences in doing so.”
“Cultural structures do not really exist in a communist society. Art is seen as either party propaganda or as Western spiritual pollution,” Ai added. “The demolition of an artist’s studio or the eviction of artists as a silencing strategy doesn’t affect that society at all. It will remain the same society under one authority, one voice, and one ideology. It used to be called communism, but now it is state capitalism — a capitalism where the communists dominate both profit and power.”
Artists’ neighborhoods in Beijing have long been targeted for destruction because they are often hubs of political dissent and occupy land that can be sold for a profit by real estate developers. Artists living on that land can often face quick eviction.