Ai Weiwei got a lot of attention when he publically opted out of the Beijing Olympic festivities (his much-hyped Bird’s Nest Stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as several athletic events). A few months ago, he told a Japanese newspaper that he regrets being part of the Communist Party’s staging of the 2008 Games. On Wednesday, the artist wrote an essay that was published in The Guardian, underlining his belief that the 2008 Games were party propaganda and his hope that the 2012 Games will be different:
My memory of the Beijing Olympics has not changed. It is a fake smile, an elaborate costume party with the sole intention of glorifying the country. From the opening to the closing ceremony, from the torch relay to the cheers for gold medals—these all displayed the might, and the desperation, of a totalitarian regime. Through authoritarian power a country can possess many things, but it cannot bring joy or happiness to its people.
As he’s currently under state surveillance in China, Ai isn’t able to travel to England. But, he seems optimistic (he has, after all, had pleasant exposure to London with his Sunflower Seeds and Serpentine Pavillion). “I don’t know how London will cope, but I believe it will be more relaxing than Beijing,” he writes. “In London, the people will be able to participate in and celebrate the joy of the Games.”
Read the article in its entirety here.