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Taipei awaits Ai Weiwei with 1001 chairs

2011/06/04 20:41:01

Taipei, June 4 (CNA) A large chair installation work featuringthe Chinese name of detained artist and activist Ai Weiwei was set upin Taipei Saturday -- the 22nd anniversary of the Tiananmen SquareMassacre -- to call for Ai's release.

Bei Ling, an artist from China who has been barred from enteringhis home country since 2000, used 1,001 empty chairs to piecetogether the three characters of Ai's name in Liberty Square at 6: 04p.m.

"The chair installation work is a symbolic gesture. It meansTaipei is waiting for Ai and that Taipei is part of the global actionagainst Ai's detention," Bei told reporters.

Bei, based in Germany, has been invited by Taipei City Governmentas a resident artist from June to August.

Ai, a 54-year-old Chinese avant-garde artist and politicalactivist, was detained in China April 3 as he was preparing to boarda flight to Hong Kong. He has been charged with unspecified economiccrimes.

Over the past two months, artists and activists in theinternational community have been calling on Beijing to free Ai.

Demonstrations against his detention have been held in Europe,the U.S. and Hong Kong. Ai's wife Lu Qing was allowed to visit himbriefly on May 16.

Bei said Ai has been a good friend of his for more than 20 years.When the Tiananmen incident occurred in Beijing in 1989, they wereboth in New York and had given support to students fighting fordemocracy inside and outside China.

Bei described Ai as one of the most influential Chinese artistsin the contemporary art scene and said the idea of setting up 1,001empty chairs in Taipei was actually a tribute to Ai's 2007"Fairytale" exhibition in Germany.

At that exhibition, Ai set up 1,001 Ming and Qing dynasty chairsin Kassel and flew in 1,001 Chinese workers who had never been to anyother foreign country before as part of his living exhibition and tosymbolize his call for the freedom of Chinese workers, Bei explained.

Ai was named by Time magazine this year as one of the 100 mostinfluential people in the world. The Taipei Fine Arts Museum isscheduled to host a solo exhibition featuring Ai's works at the endof this year.

(By Hermia Lin)
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