Friday, 11 April 2014

Ai Wei Wei

I have never had a more intriguing press opening than the one in Berlin yesterday. The dailies were all flashing front page critiques, but no egghead seemed to better comprehend his mysterious charm than the critic of the socialist daily, "Neue Deutschland". He could comprehend the 6,000 wooden stools in the grand ballroom. As the poor Chinese abandon their meagre farms to their hipper city homes, they junk the "hockers". 

And the 150 bicycles hanging from the central court? Heh, they're movin' on up to the city auto. But eighteen rooms of such diverse artistic expressions? It's the arts of a transforming society. Perhaps the largest, and certainly the fastest in human history. 

The front pages were awash in Kanzerlin Angela Merkel welcoming the "ruler" of China and his wife. (No, they avoided the opening day at the Martin Gropius Bau, the grandest art museum in the city, possibly the country.)

My first "personal contact" with our heroic house prisoner opening last fall's "Falling Wall Conference" (an annual conference to assemble humanists and scientists, and politics to speculate on the best ways to make more stupid walls fall, just as the Berlin's wall fell twenty-five years ago this fall! (Rumbles of this next one have already booked me in: Mr. Ai opened the last one via TV from Beijing. I was never so intellectually stimulated as those three days by the Spree! He already has an art professorship awaiting him in Berlin when the Mad Maos let him go.

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