Beijing: Chinese artist Ai Weiwei branded the nation’s government “inhuman” on Sunday and said the Internet would bring it to an end, as he remained under house arrest in Beijing.
Ai, who is one of China’s most famous artists and social critics and currently has an exhibition at London’s Tate Modern, was put under house arrest at the end of last week to stop him attending a gathering at his new Shanghai studio, which is due to be demolished.
“This society is not efficient, it’s inhuman in many ways politically,” Ai, 53, said.
“The government, the whole system... sacrifices education, environmental resources and most people’s interests just to make a few people become extremely rich only because they are associated with the government.
“This cannot last too long.... This society basically has no creativity. It’s just cheap labour and very police-controlled. How long can that last?” he said over the phone.
According to an official order, Ai’s house arrest is due to last until midnight on Sunday. While he is not allowed to leave home, others, including reporters, have been able to visit him.
Ai, who has managed to regularly update his Twitter account, said the Internet was a powerful force for change in China.
“The Internet is the best gift to China — this kind of technology will end this kind of dictatorship.”
Before his house arrest, the artist had planned a feast for supporters at the Shanghai studio on Sunday as an ironic celebration of a decision by authorities to demolish the building, after they had persuaded him to build it.
He said the order came after he became increasingly critical of Shanghai’s policies, writing for example about activist Feng Zhenghu, who for months was blocked from returning home from Japan. “That must have really irritated someone at a very high level,” he said.
Ai said that despite being unable to attend the party himself, over 100 people had gone to the studio anyway and more were on their way.
Ai’s work is currently being showcased at the Tate Modern, where he has filled the main hall with millions of porcelain sunflower seeds.
Perhaps his best-known work is his collaboration with Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuro, on the National Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, known as the “Bird’s Nest”, which he has since renounced as a fake “smile”.