Truth, No Matter the Power: Controversial Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei’s only fear is silence

| May-June 2009

Chinese artist and blogger Ai Weiwei has a knack for audaciously bold statements, whether he’s helping to design the iconic “bird’s nest” stadium for the Beijing Olympics, dropping a Han dynasty urn in an act of performance art, or writing a fiery post for his blog, which circumvents Chinese state media to grapple openly with his government’s policies.

Widely interviewed by both Chinese and international journalists, Ai has emerged as a digital-age dissident who—for the time being—is allowed to speak his mind in a country often known precisely for its absence of free speech.

In this interview with Index on Censorship’s Simon Kirby, conducted at the artist’s studio in Beijing, Ai holds forth on art, politics, censorship, and the new China.

—The Editors


After your work on the Beijing Olympic stadium, you withdrew your support for the project and have been critical of the way the Olympic Games were used for political purposes in China. How were the games misused?