Friday, June 17, 2011

Ai, Ai, Ai....

Read this piece of news on Artreview and Hyperallergic, two sites I follow regularly.

Anish Kapoor has pulled out of a proposed show in China, in protest at the country's continued detention of Ai Weiwei, reports the Daily Telegraph. Kapoor was due take part in the the UK Now exhibition, organised through the British Council, at Beijing's National Museum of China. Kapoor's move should somewhat appease the critics who criticised the artist's representative gallery, Lisson (who also represent Ai) for continuing to take part in the Art HK fair. The chief executive of the British Council, Martin Davidson, insisted that nonetheless the exhibition would continue as planned,"It is through cultural exchange that we best demonstrate the benefits of free artistic expression and build supportive links between people in the UK and China."
I totally understand and support Kapoor's stand. Had I been in his shoes, my first reaction would have probably been the same. Yet, when I think about it, British Council Chief Executive is probably right. If change is to happen in countries like China, change has to come from within. Cultural exchanges can help the seed of change grow into a healthy tree. Boycotts rarely work. Historically they never did. International art organisations should work more so that artists in such countries exhibit outside their regimes. This is the only way they can have a voice. 

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