Apr 20, 2011

Philippe Vergne makes public plea for Ai Weiwei

In spirited plea for more attention and protest to be directed at the case of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, detained since April 3rd as he boarded a flight, Dia Art Foundation Director Philippe Vergne asked all in international arts communities to sign a petition for his release and to participate in sit-ins outside Chinese Embassies worldwide. He said detention and oppression of artists now can be connected to historical cases of dissent—he mentioned Jean Genet (from his home country), Sakineh Mohammadi, and David Wojnarowicz alongside Ai. The enforcers who silence artists were referred to as barbarians afraid of themselves. The self-loathers, he wrote in the statement published online at ARTINFO, "can build a Great Wall to protect themselves, a Maginot line to control the invasion, but these edifices only blind them from their true enemy: themselves, and their own desire for power and control, their belief in their own self-importance." Vergne had a colorful way to describe the artist: "Ai Weiwei is the fou du roi, the sole person who is authorized to poke at the king because the king knows that his position is only as powerful as his acceptance of the critic. The minute the buffoon is silenced, the king is naked, and the king knows that it is not pretty."
As Ai's detention goes on, with new allegations of economic crimes' and supposed pornography charges that smell of a smear campaign against one of China's few vocal critics internally, Vergne made the point that the artist gains power and the king wears no clothes.

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