Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Human Artists

Chinese artist's two assistants missing during police probe

Tania Branigan
April 13, 2011

"THE driver and accountant of detained artist Ai Weiwei have gone missing, according to assistants from his studio.

Friends of Zhang Jingsong, known to friends as Xiao Pang, and accountant Ms Hu - who worked for Ai's art and architecture practice Fake Design, and whose full name is not known - have been unable to contact them since the weekend.

Officials said last week that police were investigating Ai in connection with suspected ''economic crimes'', but the artist's family say they have yet to be notified of his detention.
Mr Zhang, 53, has been out of contact since he was stopped by officials at Beijing airport more than a week ago. His friend Wen Tao, 38, has also been missing since police reportedly detained him on the same day. Police did not respond to faxed queries about them.
The detentions come amid a broadening crackdown in China, which has resulted in dozens of dissidents and high-profile human rights lawyers being detained or going missing. On Sunday, police rounded up about 160 Christians attempting to hold an open-air service in Beijing, having been evicted from their previous home. Most were released not long afterwards...
Meanwhile, English-language state media continued to attack Ai at the weekend, publishing a lengthy piece claiming many in China regarded his work as ''third-rate''. Although he is not a household name in China, he is the country's best-known artist internationally and co-designed the Bird's Nest National Stadium, the centrepiece of the Beijing Olympics.

The Xinhua article quoted claims that his 2007 work Fairytale - for which he flew 1001 Chinese citizens to an art show in Germany - was stolen from the idea of Professor Yue Luqing. But Professor Yue said he had ''strong sympathy'' for Ai, was worried about him and questioned the relevance of the claims. ''I hope he is safe, no matter where he is now. I know that he has not been in good health. I have been paying attention to what he has been doing during the years, and I identify with him. These are completely different matters,'' he said."
accessed Wednesday 13 April 2011

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