Ai Weiwei thrown out of Munich gallery | News | DW | 14.09.2019
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Ai Weiwei thrown out of Munich gallery

The Chinese artist was asked to leave the Haus der Kunst (House of Art) after voicing support for staff facing redundancy. Ai had fled to Germany after his human rights activism landed him in jail in his native China.

A German contemporary art gallery on Friday asked Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to leave after he staged a spontaneous protest on social media during one of its exhibitions, the DPA news agency reported.

The Haus der Kunst (House of Art), which is based in the southern city of Munich, said the human rights activist had voiced support for gallery employees affected by the organization's restructuring program.

Ai posted to Instagram a picture of himself "debating" feared redundancies with Haus der Kunst director Bernhard Spies.

Read more: Ai Weiwei: 'Refugee crisis is a political tool for populists'

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The gallery said in a statement that its restructuring was a sensitive topic and asked "for understanding that public events on the grounds of the [current] exhibition are not possible without prior discussion with the management."

Overhaul planned

Germany's DPA news agency reported that the Haus der Kunst, which was opened by Adolf Hitler in 1937, has long had financial problems and is looking to outsource several staff members.

In 2017, the gallery brought in a new commercial director to help stem the financial losses and devise a new business strategy.

Once used to exhibit Nazi propaganda, the gallery is also no stranger to controversy in recent times after allegations of sexual harassment and the 2017 firing of an employee who was a Scientologist. The German state of Bavaria, which funds the gallery, does not recognize Scientology as a religion and is suspicious of its motives.

Read more: 'China is in uncharted territory with Hong Kong protests': Ai Weiwei

The 60-year-old Ai, meanwhile, has been an open critic of the lack of democracy and human rights in his native China. In 2011, he was charged with tax evasion and placed under house arrest for four years.

He later fled to Berlin, where he established a studio.

Ai's art was exhibited at the Haus der Kunst about 10 years ago.

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