1000 Years Of Joys And Sorrows: Ai Weiwei

Jiayang Fan at The New York Times:

“You’re just a pawn in the game, you know,” a public security officer summarily informs Ai Weiwei, China’s most controversial — and to the Chinese Communist Party, its most dangerous — artist. It is 2011 and Ai, suspected of “inciting the subversion of state power,” has recently been held captive for 81 days; soon after his release, he is slapped with a tax bill equivalent to $2.4 million. According to the officer, Ai’s high profile has made him an expedient tool for Westerners to attack China, but “pawns sooner or later all get sacrificed.” Of course, it’s obvious that Ai also regards the officer as a pawn, one who, in serving an oppressive regime, has sacrificed his freedom to speak for himself.

In his first memoir, “1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows,” Ai recounts this and other showdowns with the state — confrontations that, alongside his iconoclastic art, have both forged his status as an international icon and forced him to work in political exile.

more here.