Art blogazine Hyperallergic is liveblogging developments relating to Weiwei’s disappearance. Visit them for the latest news on the situation.
Days after announcing his intention to build a new studio in Berlin, controversial artist Ai Weiwei has disappeared into Beijing police custody. Weiwei was apparently taken into custody sometime on Sunday after being prevented from boarding a plane to Hong Kong.
Also on Sunday, police detained eight people from his studio for questioning, and also his wife, who has yet to be released.
Weiwei’s detention and disappearance comes amidst what many observers are describing as one of the most severe crackdowns on dissidents in China in decades. The Chinese government has been detaining activists and critics of the government across the country in what is an apparently escalating fear about domestic unrest in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in Tunesia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemeni, Oman, and Jordan.
According to the Guardian more than 23 lawyers, activists and artists have been detained on charges of incitement to subversion or creating a disturbance, and another 15 individuals including human rights lawyers are missing.
When police searched Weiwe’s studio on Sunday, a Guardian reporter who was at the studio had his phone confiscated and photos deleted.
In January, Weiwei’s previous studio was demolished by Chinese officials, an act Weiwei said was in response to two recently completed documentary films, but others have also suggested that the studio was demolished may have been retaliation for Weiwei’s role in Charter 8, a public demand for democratic reform.
Weiwei is probably best known for his design of the “Bird’s Nest” Olympic stadium for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, His work has been celebrated internationally and exhibited widely including such prestigious galleries as the Tate Modern.
No one has heard from Weiwei for more than 24 hours.