"I don't feel powerful, I feel fragile"
Ai Weiwei, named as the most powerful figure in the art world by Art Review this autumn, remains threatened with incarceration by the Chinese authorities who claim he owes £1.5million in unpaid tax.
Ai disputes the bill and has received donations from members of the public who have been throwing money into his compound anonymously in support of his defiance. Ai was forced to pay half the amount into government accounts before launching his company's challenge.
"It's more or less like I was a hostage half a year ago, now I paid the ransom and I feel I have been robbed."
Ai has promised to pay back the money donated but it is increasingly clear that the artist, deliberately defying the social media ban placed on him to tweet his criticism of the government, is purposefully provoking the Chinese authorities. Such defiance is not without substantial personal risk, as he tests his 'fragile power'.
Click on the link below for the Guardian's report and for news of how his supporters are getting naked.
Penguin released a series of interviews Ai Weiwei speaks with Hans Ulrich Obrist earlier this year, during the tense period of artworld indignation at Weiwei's incarceration. Here are some of the artist's powerful words:
"We are the reality, but that reality means that we need to produce another reality."
"I have a tendency to open up the personal secrets. I think, being human, that both life and death have a secret side but there's the temptation to reveal the truth and to see the fact that you need some courage or understanding about life or death. So, even if you try to reveal or open yourself, you're still a mystery, because everybody is a mystery. We can never understand ourselves. However we act or whatever we do is misleading."
Ai Weiwei Speaks / A Penguin Special / 2011