Human rights in China seemed to be on tip of every art world watcher’s tongue following the demolition of Ai Weiwei’s studio complex in Shanghai last week. Asia Society Museum Director Melissa Chiu was quick to link the demolition to a “clampdown” on Chinese intellectuals.
Respected Chinese newspaper Caijing was equally speedy in its frank assessment of the local politics and legal infractions that led to the studio’s demise. This occurred against President Hu Jintao’s trip to Washington, where, when posed the proverbial human rights in China question, his measured response resulted in much media speculation as to whether substantive change is around the bend.
As Hu headed to Washington for high level meetings and a much ballyhooed state dinner, Chinese cultural players small and large claimed stakes in New York’s cultural scene.
Two Chinese photographers opened important solo shows at Pace/MacGill and the International Center for Photography. Meanwhile, a few blocks west, the ‘Experience China’ ad premiered on January 17th in New York’s Times Square.
Originally Reported 11/02/2011