Al Weiwei is the darling child and poster artist of the Western Art World. I am not passing comment on his art, just the system. He says, “Everything is Art and everything is political.”
We, as sluggish, and self centred Westerners, are quite happy for Al Weiwei to cause trouble for the Chinese government. In so doing we use the activities of this artist to comfort ourselves with an inbuilt narcissism. We are more advanced and liberal than the Chinese government. So where do we look for our dissenting artists? Maybe Banksy? But is Banksy a good artist ? I like to imagine a major show of Dismaland in Beijing in which the Chinese pundits could illustrate the corruption of Western Culture.
Art is always political and even if one thinks, while in front of beautiful sunset, this is not so, one has not escaped the encoding embedded in our genes and culture. Education and class background inform the politics of the show place where we may exhibit. The definition, the forming of the idea of freedom, is the illusion and vanity of most of us.
Dear friends this is my struggle also, I am not exempt. The Chinese government, just as Western governments, moves its pieces around the chessboard of exhibitions. Finding the next square to occupy … for the moment. Yet, as before, we have to see the glass ceiling being controlled by the gatekeepers. There are always gatekeepers. As we are told, Al Weiwei deals with his gatekeepers with much support from the West. This reminds me of the 70s hit “Jesus Christ Super Star, with its refrain ‘How we wonder what you are?’
In terms of Ai Weiwei we look for an answer.
The NAE will have a review of the Al Weiwei show , I may disagree with the writer. The only way I keep my sanity is to keep the conversation alive … ‘Without Fear or Favour’.
Derek Guthrie, Publisher
Volume 30 number 2, November / December 2015 p 20