German arts academy honors Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei | Arts | DW | 08.05.2011
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German arts academy honors Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei

A German arts academy has appointed Chinese artist, dissident and government prisoner Ai Weiwei to their institution. The move came out of solidarity to his cause, but also out of recognition for his work.

A protest calling Ai Weiwei's release

Ai Weiwei's detainment in China sparked protests in Europe

Detained Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei has been appointed to the German Academy of the Arts, the institution said over the weekend.

Ai's forthright criticisms of the political situation in his home country have helped make him the most famous Chinese artist in Germany. The artist has long had good contacts in Berlin.

Academy president Klaus Staeck called on China to release Ai, adding that his appointment to the German institution was also due to his artistic significance.

"It is not only out of solidarity," Staeck said. "We have also chosen a major artist."

Prior to his April 3 arrest in Beijing, Ai had planned to rent various venues in Berlin to serve as studios. Ai, who was active in the human rights movement in China, was taken into police custody accused of economic crimes.

Nothing has been heard from the artist since, but the Chinese government asserts that his detention had nothing to do with human rights or freedom of speech.

But the Academy of the Arts directly contested this statement: "Despite the official (Chinese) statement about an 'economic crime,' there is no doubt that his imprisonment relates to his human rights work."

Beijing said this week that the international community "should not comment" on Ai's detention.

He had already been appointed visiting professor of the Berlin University of the Arts. The United States and European Union have called for his release.

Author: Darren Mara (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

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