Good on the Lisson Gallery, Anish Kapoor, Patrick Brill and Mark Wallinger for highlighting Ai Wei Wei’s plight. It would possibly, however, also be an idea to highlight that Ai Wei Wei’s imprisonment is not some sort of one off as some of the reports mistakenly seem to imply. He is one of scores of activists who have been detained. Others include Li Xiongbing, the Beijing human rights lawyer who has been missing since last week and Zhang Jialing, a former journalist who covered the detention of Ai Weiwei and has ben missing since April 28th.And bloggers have also been banged up – for example Liang Haiyi and Ran Yunfei. China’s detention of Ai Wei Wei is, according to Amnesty Internaional’s Sam Zarifi, “part of a wider trend of repression of lawyers, writers and government critics” that seems to correlate to Chinese nerves over a repetition of the events of the Arab Spring happening in their back yard. Whilst somehave been released – such as the lawyers Tang Jitian and Jiang Tianyong, they have been warned not to talk about their time in their own incommunicado detentions. And their willingness to go along with these instructions suggests that these detentions were harrowing.
Another related point: will any of the galleries participating in Art Hong Kong, due to open later there this month, have a think about their presence there signifies? UK galleries slated to be there include Lisson, Simon Lee, Victoria Miro, Pilar Corrias and Sadie Coles whilst international galleries include Gavin Brown, Blum & Poe, Tanya Bonakdar, Chantal Crousel and Emmanuel Perrotin. Surely instead of museum’s shutting down for one day as Kapoor suggests, a refusal to hang works in their booths would be far more effective?