“The feeling of guilt linked to the persecution of the Jewish people has sometimes been transferred to the Arab world», Estimated the artist in a message published last month.
An exhibition at the Lisson Gallery in London, dedicated to the work ofChinese artist Ai Weiwei, was canceled at the last minute due to the visual artist’s positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A message, published in October on X (formerly Twitter) particularly annoyed the contemporary art gallery, as recounted The Art Newspaper . Amid the dozens of war videos that he relays on his social networks, Ai Weiwei responded to an Internet user: “The feeling of guilt linked to the persecution of the Jewish people has sometimes been transferred to the Arab world, he explained in Mandarin, according to a transcription sent by the artist’s studio. Financially, culturally and in terms of media influence, the Jewish community has always been very present in the United States. The $3 billion in annual aid to Israel has for decades been considered one of the most valuable investments the United States has ever made.» The post has since been deleted.
There is no room for a debate that can be described as anti-Semitic or Islamophobic
On Tuesday, the artist confirmed to Art Newspaper that the exhibition had indeed been suspended, sine die, “because of his tweet“. The journalist also questioned representatives of the Lisson Gallery, who confirmed that after “long conversations» with Ai Weiwei, both parties agreed that “it was not the right time to present his new body of work“. They claim that “there is no room for a debate that can be characterized as anti-Semitic or Islamophobic at a time when all efforts should be aimed at ending the tragic suffering in the Israeli and Palestinian territories“.
A decision that Ai Weiwei accepts, but does not digest, since he has multiplied the tackles against the gallery on his social networks since Wednesday. The 66-year-old artist, son of a committed poet, has always fought for freedom of expression. He has often criticized the regime of his country, China, which he deliberately fled to settle in Portugal. In 2011, he had been arrested and held in solitary confinement for eighty days by the Chinese government.
Ai Weiwei’s studio also informed The Art Newspaper that three other exhibitions by the artist, in New York, Paris and Berlin, have been suspended.