Ai Weiwei is an artist and a social activist. His work encompasses diverse fields including fine arts, curating, architecture, and social criticism. Born in Beijing in 1957, he moved to Xinjiang with his family between 1960 and 1976. Subsequently he relocated to the United States in 1981 and lived there until 1993. He currently resides and works in Beijing. On April 3, 2011, Ai was secretly detained by the police for 81 days at the Beijing Capital International Airport while on his way to board a flight to Hong Kong. He was released on bail on June 22, 2011 upon fabricated tax charges. Although the bail was lifted after a year, the authorities have not returned his passport and he remains prohibited from travelling outside China. In collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron, Ai Weiwei designed the 2012 Serpentine Pavilion in London, UK. Among numerous awards and honors, he won the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation in 2012, and was selected as Honorary Academician at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK in 2011. His major solo exhibitions include Ai Weiwei: According to What? at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. (2012), Ai Weiwei: Absent at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan (2011), Circle of Animals at the Pulitzer Fountain, New York, NY (2011), Interlacing at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland (2011), The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei at the Tate Modern, London, UK (2010), So Sorry at Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2009), and Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs 1983-1993 at Three Shadows Photography Art Center, Beijing (2009).
Photo credit: Gao Yuan