Protesters gathered by the thousands this weekend in Hong Kong calling for the release of prominent artist Ai Weiwei from custody.
As I wrote two weeks ago, the detainment of Ai has captivated the proverbial global audience and will truly test the limits of the Chinese government’s crackdown on dissenters.
Photos from the demonstration had a little bit of everything: Guy Fawkes masks, cardboard cutouts of Ai himself and even artistic representations of his charges.
Ai – who was detained earlier this month on charges of subversion – was first accused of “inciting subversion,” a phrase analogous to treason in China. Now he is being held under “economic crimes.”
But what I found particularly fascinating from reports of the protest was a quote collected by the AFP. According to their report, a mainland Chinese tourist in Hong Kong had not heard of Ai Weiwei’s detainment until she left for vacation.
“We only read about the detention of Ai Weiwei from Hong Kong newspapers when we got here for holiday five days ago,” said Libby Xu, a 30-year-old tourist from mainland China to the AFP.
Oh, and ironically enough, Ai was listed Friday among Time magazine’s list of the world’s “100 most influential people.” Go figure.
I guess it takes being arrested by the government via unsupported charges to truly make it in the art world.