Evan Osnos of The New Yorker profiles Ai Weiwei, who has acquired the dual role of being one of China’s most successful artists and its most flamboyant political activist.  In 2005, Ai was invited by the Chinese Website Sina to host a blog, and since then has had a wide audience not just for his art, but for his very public government critiques. Though his blog was shut down in 2009, he Twitters obsessively, has hired videographers to document his life, and is often under government surveillance. The artist Yu Gao claimed that Ai’s transparent and provocative methods of protest had “destroyed the platform for discussion with the government.”  Artist and social critic Chen Danqing had this to say: “There are people who say that he is doing some kind of performance art.  But I think he long ago surpassed that definition. He is doing something more interesting, more ambiguous… He wants to see how far an individual’s power can go.”  
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24 May 2010

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The New Yorker, 24 May 2010, pp. 54–63

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It's Not Beautiful, Ai Weiwei: An Artist Takes on the System