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Art student freaks out and destroys painting during crit
05:20 pm



Whether or not this is staged (performance art?) it’s hard to tell. But it does show what it’s like to have your work shit on during a crit by a bunch of assholes (and why so many people say “fuck it” to art degrees).

For some reason this whole freak-out reminds me of an episode of Girls.

Via Laughing Squid

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Fuck You’: A psychedelic rarity from mystery band Lucifer
02:12 am

Pop Culture

Fuck You

Much debate revolves around exactly who Lucifer was. One of the only points of agreement is that the band wasn’t actually a band but the product of one person. The question is: who was that person? Legendary British hash smuggler and provocateur Howard Marks claims in his book Mr. Nice that Lucifer was Denys Irving, a pioneering computer arts geek, and that Marks financed his experimental recordings. Others, including a writer on Julian Cope’s blog, say Lucifer is Peter Walker, a former member of Manchester, England psychedelic band The Purple Gang. Based on the information in Mark’s book, I think Irving, who died in a hang gliding accident in 1976, was Lucifer. As far as I know, Peter Walker ain’t talking.

In all of the mystery surrounding Lucifer’s identity, the one thing that is certain is that the artist’s first record was a limited edition 45 r.p.m single “Fuck You” released in 1972 and made available through mail-order only. You’d have to have seen an ad in underground magazines like Australia’s Oz or British music weekly New Musical Express to know the record even existed.

Described by Lucifer as “fuckrock,” here’s the obscure, and yet legendary, “Fuck You” recorded four decades before Cee Lo Green’s hit of the same name.

And if you dig this, stay tuned. I’ll be uploading more of Lucifer’s music shortly.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Ken Russell’s early documentary: ‘A House in Bayswater’

During the 1960s Ken Russell flourished as a director of television documentaries for the BBC. Single-handedly he advanced the genre, creating a hybrid form of drama-documentary—the biopic. This was first seen in his remarkable film on Elgar in 1962—which was later voted the best single documentary of the decade. In collaboration with a young Melvyn Bragg—who acted as screenwriter—he produced The Debussy Film starring Oliver Reed in 1965—which is arguably the single most influential drama-doc of the past 50 years as it reinvented the drama doc as a film within a film—a template later copied,developed and stolen from by innumerable filmmakers. Then came the the understated film on Delius Song of Summer in 1968, before finally and most controversially making his farewell film for the BBC Dance of the Seven Veils A Comic Strip in Seven Episodes on the life of Richard Strauss 1864-1949. Russell’s film infamously depicted the German composer of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” as a Nazi, which outraged critics, lead to questions being raised in the British Parliament, and was eventually banned.

A young Ken Russell on the balcony of his apartment in Bayswater, late 1959s.

Russell’s visually brilliant and intuitive style of film-making was a long way from the kind of straight documentaries made by his contemporaries—including John Schlesinger, whom he had replaced at the BBC. Then ‘biography’, as Joseph Lanza explained in Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films, was:

...more like strict documentary. There was no place for metaphors or speculative drama. The network’s purists felt such tactics were synonymous with the kinds of exaggeration [the Futurist artist] Henri Gaudier championed and that Russell longed to create. So Russell kept a humble exterior while secretly plotting to subvert the BBC’s codes of propriety.

“Ken was different in every way from what he is now,” Russell’s BBC boss Huw Wheldon reflected in the early 1970s on working with Russell in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. “To start with, he was virtually wordless. He was shy and quiet. Quiet in every way: his clothes, his haircut, his countenance. A little watchful, but silent and completely modest. I couldn’t make head nor tail of him, partly because he wouldn’t help me. He didn’t say anything. He just looked at me.”

Russell’s first short film for the BBC’s Monitor series was Poet’s London - an effective evocation of John Betjeman’s poetry. This was quickly followed by Guitar Crazy on the rise of guitar music; Portrait of a Goon, a look acclaimed comic and scriptwriter, Spike Milligan; and a profile of dance legend, Marie Rambert and her ballet company. Then in 1960, during a summer break from the series, Russell wrote, directed and produced his first full-length documentary film, A House in Bayswater.

A scene from ‘A House in Bayswater.’

In An Appalling Talent - Ken Russell, film writer and critic, John Baxter described Russell’s film as ‘...ostensibly a protest at the razing of tall old buildings to make way for office blocks…’

‘Beginning as a systematic representation of Bayswater as a hive of creative activity - his chosen terrace houses a painter, a photographer, a ballet dancer and ex-pupil of Pavlova, a retired lady’s maid who pines for the affluent USA of the Twenties, and an odd but lively landlady - the film changes tone as both artists reveal themselves as tedious poseurs, and Russell’s sympathy swings towards the old people, sustained and enriched by the past. The dancer, leading her willing, wispy pupil through a two-woman show hazed in memoriesof better days (“My next solo is one I did on Broadway in 1929 and I am wearing the same costume”) is faded but not absurd, the maid’s images of New York have the insouciant fever of Scott Fitzgerald, and the concierge who sells her junk to the photographer for props, offers bumpers of sherry as rent receipts and cultivates toadstools and deadly nightshade in the garden with a philosophical “They might come in useful” celebrates the indestructible eccentric. The last Cocteauesque image, of the dancer and her little pupil battling in slow motion against a windy torrent of streamers and balloons (to be recalled in the 1812 episode of The Music Lovers) holds the promise of immortality for all those who survive and, above all, keep faith.’

Russell at the Steenbeck with legendary BBC producer Huw Wheldon looking over his shoulder.

A House in Bayswater is a beautiful piece of documentary-making, which slowly develops towards a memorable finish. What isn’t revealed is that the fact this was this house in Bayswater was Ken Russell’s home during the 1950s.

I have lived most of my life in rooming houses, and shared apartments, and run-down hotels, where there is great comfort in anonymity and company amongst strangers, and understand Russell’s nostalgia for a life that is being slowly removed, as cities are carelessly gentrified. Watching it in the month when New York’s Chelsea Hotel announced its demise, only reinforced how much of our shared environment is now monetized for the benefit of a few. This is apparent in Russell’s film, as the film details the lives and hopes of the tenants, connected by a house that was planned for demolition—to be replaced “by a soulless office block. Thankfully, this never happened and the house stands to this day.”

Previously on Dangerous Minds

The Book, The Sculptor, His Life & Ken Russell

Ken Russell’s banned film: ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’

Ken Russell on Antonio Gaudi


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Rule Britannia’ from Derek Jarman’s ‘Jubilee’, 1978

There have been few films as truthful about the state of MerryEngland as Derek Jarman’s Jubilee. Here is a world bought by bankers, sold by politicians, all with public money. A world where everything has its price, and liberty is defined by our Right to Shop. A world best described in the film by the wonderful creation, Borgia Ginz:

“You wanna know my story babe. It’s easy. This is the generation that grew up and forgot to lead their lives. They were so busy watching my endless movie. It’s power babe, power. I don’t create it, I own it. I sucked and sucked and I sucked. The media became their only reality and I owned their world of flickering shadows. BBC. TUC. ITV. ABC. ATV. MGM. KGB. C of E. You name it, I bought them all and rearranged the alphabet. Without me, they don’t exist.”

After its release in 1978, Jubilee was denounced by some of the people who should have supported it, but were horrified by its nihilism. Jarman explained his motivation to the Guardian‘s Nicholas de Jongh:

“We have now seen all established authority, all political systems, fail to provide any solution - they no longer ring true.”

As true today, as it was then.

Here is Jordan as Amyl Nitrite, giving it laldy with her rendition of “Rule Britannia”.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Lucian Freud has died

Lucian Freud, one of Britain’s most distinguished and acclaimed artists, has died at the age of 88. Described as a “great realist painter,” Freud first came to prominence when he was just twenty-one, with his first highly successful one-man-show in 1944.

Freud’s early work was illustrative - doe-eyed portraits of his wife Caroline Blackwood, or his friend, Francis Bacon, which are reminiscent of the work of Stanley Spencer, and seem almost polite representations compared to his later giant nudes. Freud was greatly impressed by Bacon, and the older artist influenced Freud’s development as a painter. Freud and Bacon exhibited alongside Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff, a loose grouping of London artists,  whose work established the foundations for figurative painting for decades to come.

The critic David Sylvester named Bacon as the head, while Freud

“produced easily the best portraits painted in this country during the last decade.”

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Freud’s technique changed as he began to use impasto to create intense, almost physical assaults on his sitters. Freud said of his portraits:

“I paint people not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.”

The New York Times writes:

Mr. Freud, a grandson of Sigmund Freud and a brother of the British television personality Clement Freud, was already an important figure in the small London art world when, in the immediate postwar years, he embarked on a series of portraits that established him as a potent new voice in figurative art.

In paintings like “Girl With Roses” (1947-48) and “Girl With a White Dog” (1951-52), he put the pictorial language of traditional European painting in the service of an anti-romantic, confrontational style of portraiture that stripped bare the sitter’s social facade. Ordinary people — many of them his friends and intimates — stared wide-eyed from the canvas, vulnerable to the artist’s ruthless inspection.

From the late 1950s, when he began using a stiffer brush and moving paint in great swaths around the canvas, Mr. Freud’s nudes took on a new fleshiness and mass. His subjects, pushed to the limit in exhausting extended sessions, day after day, dropped their defenses and opened up. The faces showed fatigue, distress, torpor.

The flesh was mottled, lumpy and, in the case of his 1990s portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery and the phenomenally obese civil servant Sue Tilley, shockingly abundant.

The relationship between sitter and painter, in his work, overturned traditional portraiture. It was “nearer to the classic relationship of the 20th century: that between interrogator and interrogated,” the art critic John Russell wrote in “Private View,” his survey of the London art scene in the 1960s.

William Feaver, a British critic who organized a Freud retrospective at Tate Britain in 2002, said: “Freud has generated a life’s worth of genuinely new painting that sits obstinately across the path of those lesser painters who get by on less. He always pressed to extremes, carrying on further than one would think necessary and rarely letting anything go before it became disconcerting.”

Amongst Freud’s great late paintings were his enormous portraits of the performance artist, Leigh Bowery. Theirs was a special relationship, as Freud’s portraits of Bowery revealed the shy humanity hidden behind the make-up and costumes of a performer who invested all in concealing himself.

As Bowery discovered, sitting for Freud was a challenge, as the sitter allowed Freud “maximum observation”, as the BBC reports:

Lucian Freud’s portraits were not concerned with flattery or modesty - disturbing was one adjective applied to them - and some were said to have compelling nastiness.

His early work was the product of “maximum observation”, Freud said
Though sometimes startling, his portraits could also be beautiful and intimate. Freud had been an admirer of the artist Francis Bacon and painted a striking portrait of him.

Freud, who lived and worked in London, said his work was purely autobiographical - he painted “the people that interest me and that I care about and think about in rooms I live in and know”.

A close relationship with sitters was important to him. He painted several affectionate portraits of his mother and his daughters Bella and Esther were also models.

Sittings could last for a year and sitters were often profoundly affected by the process. One of them once said: “You are the centre of his world while he paints you. But then he moves on to someone else.”

Freud seldom accepted commissions. His work is in a number of galleries in Britain and overseas, but much of it is privately owned.

He was one of few artists to have had two retrospective exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery in London.

The following short documentary looks at Lucian Freud’s portraits through the people who have posed for him, from David Hockney to Duke of Devonshire.

Rest of documentary plus Lucian freud speaks, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Original Photo-spread for Derek Jarman’s ‘Jubilee’

It was porn that brought me to Derek Jarman, browsing through the soft core pages of Cinema Blue there was a photo-spread on his first feature Sebastiane.

It caught my interest because of Jarman’s association with Ken Russell on The Devils and Savage Messiah.  Now, in 1977, he had made a film about frisbee throwing Roman centurions romping in Sardinia, with a script spoken in schoolboy Latin, and a cast that included Peter Hinwood and Little Nell from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the boyish Richard Warwick from If…, and the idyllic TV series Brensham People.

Dismissed as a sex film and with a hint of notoriety, Sebastiane  was whispered about in the schoolyard, but as Cinema Blue pointed out, it was too intelligent and too well made to be a skin flick, but was instead a brilliant art house film.

I checked the papers, but no cinema had Sebastiane in its listings. It was therefore to be Jarman’s next film, Jubilee that started a love affair with his work.

March 1978 and Films and Filming featured Adam Ant, the star of Derek Jarman’s second feature Jubilee, on its cover. Inside was a 4-page photo spread.

Directed by Derek Jarman, from an original screenplay by James Whaley and Jarman, about a gang of girls fighting for survival on the streets of London in the near future. With Jenny Runacre, Little Nell, Jordan, Toyah Wilcox, Bermmine Demoriane, Iaan Charleson, Karl Johnson and Adam Ant. Music by Adam and the Ants, Siouxsie and the banshees, Chelsea, Wayne County and the Elecrtric Chairs, Suzi Pinns and Brian Eno. Produced by Howard Malin and James Whaley.

Here in its grainy black and white glory is that photo-spread.

More pages from the past, plus bonus clips of Jarman’s ‘Jubilee’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Arty Bollocks Generator
02:35 pm



With the Arty Bollocks Generator you will never be short of the right words when it comes to describing your art work, your film, your novel or your artistic vision.

Arty Bollocks Generator

Do you hate having to write your artist statement?

Generate your own here for free, and if you don’t like it, generate another one.

For use with funding applications, exhibitions, curriculum vitae, websites ...

Here are a few examples:

My work explores the relationship between postmodern discourse and emotional memories.

With influences as diverse as Kierkegaard and John Lennon, new combinations are generated from both simple and complex layers.

Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by the ephemeral nature of meaning. What starts out as triumph soon becomes corrupted into a tragedy of power, leaving only a sense of what could have been and the chance of a new understanding.

As temporal impressions become clarified through emergent and personal practice, the viewer is left with a glimpse of the inaccuracies of our future.

Generate your own Arty Bollocks here.
With thanks to Alessandro Cima

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Zimbabwean artist faces jail for depicting President Mugabe’s massacres

Zimbabwean artist, Owen Maseko is facing more than twenty years in jail for depicting the Gukurahundi massacres in which 20,000 people were killed.

In March last year, police shut down Maseko’s exhibition at the National Gallery, in Bulawayo, less than 24-hours after it opened. Called “Sibathontisele” (“Let’s Drip On Them”), an allusion to blood, and a method torture used during the Gukurahundi military offensive against Ndebele civilians in the 1980s.

The Gukurahundi is a Shona word for “the spring rains that sweep away dry season chaff”, and was President Robert Mugabe’s response to the bitter rivalry after independence in 1980 between his Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) and Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu). Mugabe is a Shona, whereas Nkomo was from the Kalanga, a tribe associated with the Ndebele from Matabeleland, whose capital is Bulawayo. Mugabe destroyed Nkomo’s power by attacking the people of Matabeleland. When Nkomo eventually retired from politics and the two parties merged into the Zanu-Patriotic Front.

Owen Maseko’s exhibition graphically detailed the atrocities committed during the early years of Mugabe’s rule.

Maseko has been charged with “insulting the president”, which could lead to along prison sentence of up to twenty-four years.  In an interview with Bulawayo 24 News, Maseko said he is “optimistic and says his paintings have given people a voice.”

“Those atrocities, you can’t talk openly about them in Zimbabwe, so my exhibition kind of made this issue come out and people began to talk about the exhibition,” he said.

“It’s difficult in Zimbabwe to separate what is politics and what isn’t politics because maybe people see Robert Mugabe in my paintings because it is what is on their minds and their faces and it is what is giving them quite a lot of stress at the moment.”

Bulawayo National Gallery curator Vote Thebe says he displayed the exhibition hoping it would help the healing process.

“Our whole aim was to start a debate on the massacres and let the people talk about what happened,” he said.

“And then that way, once you talk about the thing, you get healed as well.

“It wasn’t a way of pointing fingers but it was a way of making sure that people are aware that such things happened.”

Mugabe admits the massacres were an act of madness, he has never acknowledged responsibility.

A campaign to Free Owen Maseko is currently on Facebook, check here for details.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Legendary Film Director & Artist Tony Kaye sings!

It’s been thirteen turbulent years since Tony Kaye’s controversial first feature American History X nearly finished his career. Now the man who once described himself as “the greatest English director since Hitchcock,” is continuing to confound, surprise and impress with his latest film, the powerful and uncompromising Detachment, starring Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden, Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu, James Caan, Blythe Danner, Tim Blake Nelson and William Petersen.

Detachment chronicles:

three weeks in the lives of several high school teachers, administrators and students as seen through the eyes of a substitute teacher.

It will hopefully be on national release soon.

When not making his excellent films and documentaries, or painting and campaiging, the bearded, Biblical-looking Kaye has been recording and gigging at various venues in LA and NY over the past few years with his own distinct and original songs, of which these are just a selection.

More songs from Tony Kaye, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Derek Jarman’s film for Marianne Faithfull’s ‘Broken English’

This, as DM pal, film-maker Alessandro Cima, writes: “might be the most beautiful film you will see all year.” It’s Derek Jarman’s Broken English, his superb interpretation of three tracks by Marianne Faithfull -  “Witches Song,” “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” and “Broken English”.

As Mr Cima writes:

The montage and superimposition going on in this film is simply stunning.  It’s full of dark pagan ritual, sex, violence, romance, adoration, and mystery.


Via Candlelight Stories

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Ai Weiwei is still missing

Ai Weiwei is still missing.

A petition calling for Ai Weiwei’s release has been started by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Addressed to the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China (Minister Mr. Cai Wu), the statement reads:  

On April 3, internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was detained at the Beijing airport while en route to Hong Kong, and his papers and computers were seized from his studio compound. 

We members of the international arts community express our concern for Ai’s freedom and disappointment in China’s reluctance to live up to its promise to nurture creativity and independent thought, the keys to “soft power” and cultural influence. 

Our institutions have some of the largest online museum communities in the world. We have launched this online petition to our collective millions of Facebook fans and Twitter followers.  By using Ai Weiwei’s favored medium of “social sculpture,” we hope to hasten the release of our visionary friend.

This petition can be signed here.

Following worldwide protests for Ai Weiwei at the weekend, another campaign appeared on New York’s streets:


Call Chinese Ambassador to the US Zhang Yesui.

Demand the release of artist Ai Weiwei


If you’re interested in supporting Ai Weiwei, please sign the petition here.
Ai Weiwei - Without Fear or Favour was made by Alan Yentob for the BBC’s Imagine series last year.

Architect, photographer, curator and blogger, Ai Weiwei is China’s most famous and politically outspoken contemporary artist. As Ai Weiwei’s latest work is unveiled in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, Alan Yentob reveals how this most courageous and determined of artists continues to fight for artistic freedom of expression while living under the restrictive shadows of authoritarian rule.

As one reviewer noted:

If you found yourself thinking that you were watching Mission: Impossible rather than Imagine, you could have been forgiven. Alan Yentob had clearly been banned from meeting Ai Weiwei in China, and so one of their interviews was conducted over a webcam, with Yentob sitting in the dark, like some spymaster of the arts.

This was even before Ai had been put under house arrest to prevent him from attending a party he arranged to celebrate the demolition of his studio in Shanghai (a studio which the Chinese Government had asked him to put up in the first place…). All of which prompts the question: what does that say about the place of the artist in China?


Previously on DM

Artist and Activist Ai Weiwei arrested and missing in China

Artist Ai Weiwei under house arrest


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘L’âme érotique’: Sex, Poetry and Art with Anne Pigalle
04:19 pm


Anne Pigalle

It’s been a busy year for Anne Pigalle, who follows up the recent release of her brilliant album, L’Amerotica, with L’âme érotique, a selection of twenty-one erotically charged poems, each with their own musical accompaniment. The poems deal with love, sex, and soul. It’s a fabulous oeuvre, and range from the personal (“You Give Me Asthma”, “Lunch”) through the comic and the Surreal to the sexually explicit (“Saint Orgasm”, “X Amount” and “Erotica de toi”).

Throughout is Anne Pigalle’s richly seductive voice that sounds intimate enough to kiss. It’s a fabulous mix, and for fans of the legendary Miss Pigalle, it is a must-have. For first timers, it’s a breathless, arousing and unforgettable introduction.

Anne Pigalle’s L’âme érotique is now available on i-tunes.

To celebrate the release of L’âme érotique, the fabulous Anne Pigalle will hold An Amérotique Salon on 21th april 2011 - at the Idler Academy, 81 Westbourne Park Rd. London W2, check here for details.

‘Cunt Me In’ - Anne Pigalle from ‘L’âme érotique’

‘Are You Real?’ - Anne Pigalle from ‘L’âme érotique’
Previously on DM

‘L’Amerotica’: the return of the brilliant Anne Pigalle


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Particles’: Trippy and beautiful art installation

Particles is an “illumination installation” by Japanese artists, Daito Manabe and Motoi Ishibashi, which presents:

...seemingly floating lights that create a fantastic afterimage, this work centers around an organically spiral-shaped rail construction on which a number of balls with built-in LEDs are rolling while blinking in different time intervals, resulting in spatial drawings of light particles in all kinds of shapes. The illumination’s three-dimensional design, achieved through a fusion of the rail construct’s characteristic features and communication control technology, takes on various appearances depending on the viewer’s position. Look forward to an exciting new work that combines generally entertaining ideas and sophisticated information technology in everything from LED devices and other hardware to programming.

Particles is currently on display at the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, Japan.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Kim Gottlieb-Walker’s iconic photographs of Bob Marley and the golden age of Reggae

This month, the Proud Gallery in Camden, London, presents Bob Marley and The Golden Age of Reggae, an exhibition of Kim Gottlieb-Walker’s brilliant and evocative photographs of Jamaican artists Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

During 1975 and 1976, renowned photo-journalist Kim Gottlieb-Walker and her husband, Head of Publicity at Island Records Jeff Walker, documented what is now widely recognised as the golden age of reggae. Kim took iconic photographs of the artists and producers who would go on to define an era and captivate a generation.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Bob Marley’s death this May, Proud Galleries has worked with Kim Gottlieb-Walker to create an exhibition of candid and intimate portraits, including never before seen shots, of one of the most exciting moments in recent musical history with a warmth and intimacy born out of the respect between artist and photographer.

During her long career, Kim Gottllieb-Walker’s has documented many of the best known and important cultural figures of the past 5 decades, from Jimi Hendrix through Bob Marley to Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen and John Carpenter. Kim sees herself as “the opposite of a paparazzi”:

“Rather than ‘take’ photos, the process is one of giving. The subject entrusts themselves to me and in return, I respect their privacy and their sensibilities and do my best to capture them at their most beautiful and expressive—a mutual act of giving. On the set, I see myself as a ‘recording angel’ who’s there to document what happens for posterity—a historian more than an artist—capturing the moments worth preserving.”

Bob Marley and The Golden Age of Reggae runs from 7th April - 15th May at the Proud Gallery, London.

Kim Gottllieb-Walker’s photographic book Bob Marley and The Golden Age of Reggae is available from Titan Books here.
Previously on DM

‘Stir It Up’: Video of Bob Marley and The Wailers rehearsal session

More superb photos after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Artist and Activist Ai Weiwei arrested and missing in China

The US and EU have spoken out over the detention of artist and activist Ai Weiwei, in China. Police detained the 53-year-old at Beijing Airpport, on Sunday morning, as he was going through immigration. No one has been able to contact Ai Weiwei since.

It has also been reported that 8 of his studio workers were arrested at the artist’s studio in the north-west Beijing. They were questioned for several hours and then released. According to Art Lyst:

The police visited the studio several times last week in an attempt to intimidate the artist and his supporters.Dozens of police officers also raided the hotel rooms of supporters of Tan Zuore on Wednesday morning in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. They were there to testify on behalf of Tan Zuore a well-known writer and human-rights advocate on trial, charged with subversion. The group had also been planning an event, in June to commemorate the anniversary of the massacre of civilians by government forces, during the Tiananmen Square protests.

Mark Toner of the US State Department called for the artist’s immediate release, and added, “We obviously continue to be deeply concerned by the trend of forced disappearances, extralegal detentions, arrests and convictions of human rights activists for exercising their internationally recognised human right for freedom of expression.”

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague said, “I call on the Chinese government to urgently clarify Ai’s situation and wellbeing, and hope he will be released immediately.”

He also said, “The development of independent civil society and application of human rights under the rule of law are essential prerequisites for China’s long-term prosperity and stability.”

The Guardian reports that the EU delegation to China is concerned by the increasing use of arbitrary detention against human rights defenders, lawyers and activists:

Citing Ai’s case, it added: “We call on the Chinese authorities to refrain from using arbitrary detention under any circumstances.”

France and Germany earlier appealed for the artist’s release. “Ai Weiwei being taken away is not surprising to us; we just didn’t think it would happen now. I don’t think he had expected that either ... Let’s hope for the best,” said Pu Zhiqiang, a human rights lawyer.

Pu said he had agreed to represent the artist if anything happened to him, but added that he had not been able to discuss the issue with Ai’s family yet. “The police had not given any kind of notice to the family – we can’t start the procedures. Even if they detain some kind of street thug, they have to give a notice within certain time, but for Ai Weiwei there is no information,” he added.

Ai has repeatedly clashed with authorities over his outspoken criticism. Friends are particularly alarmed by the length of his detention and the scope and co-ordination of the police operation. Officers have removed dozens of items, including documents and computers, from the artist’s studio.

His wife, Lu Qing, told Reuters: “This time it’s extremely serious. They searched his studio and took disks and hard drives and all kinds of stuff, but the police haven’t told us where he is or what they’re after. There’s no information about him.”

Liu Xiaoyuan, a human rights lawyer, told Reuters: “I hope he doesn’t have to face trial or be jailed,” he said. “But sometimes the things you don’t wish to happen could happen.”

Weiwei was due to visit London for an exhibition at the Lisson Gallery next month, a spokesperson for the gallery said: “We are dismayed by developments that again threaten Weiwei’s right to speak freely as an artist and hope that he will be released immediately.”

However, Ai Weiwei is not the only Chinese artist to have been detained, as the Guardian reports:

The Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) network said four artists from Beijing were detained on 24 March after a performance art event in the Chinese capital where some pieces touched on the crackdown and the “jasmine revolution”. An anonymous appeal for protests akin to the Middle East uprisings, which was posted on an overseas website, appears to have sparked the campaign against critics.

Artists Huang Xiang, Zhui Hun and Cheng Li were criminally detained for “causing a disturbance” by officers from Songzhuang police station and Guo Gai was also taken away, probably because he had taken pictures during the exhibition, CHRD said.

No one could be reached for comment at the Taihu detention centre, where the four are reportedly held. An employee at Songzhuang police station said: “I don’t know about the situation,” then added: “Actually, it is not convenient to talk about it.”

CHRD, which has been keeping a tally of the number of detentions, says in total about a dozen people have disappeared and 26 criminally detained in the latest sweep, with five released on bail. Another three have been formally arrested and one has been sent to re-education through labour.

Asked about concerns for the whereabouts and safety of those reported missing, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, told a regular press briefing last week: “China’s judicial authorities work independently. China, as a country under the rule of law, protects its citizens’ basic rights and freedoms – including freedom of expression – but citizens while exercising their rights have an obligation to abide by the law and should not bring harm to the public interest.”


Previously on DM

Artist Ai Weiwei under house arrest

Ai Weiwei’s TED lecture after jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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