Ai Weiwei has confirmed the suspension of his exhibition at the Lisson Gallery in London, scheduled for November. But according to the Chinese artist, the exhibition is, in fact, canceled and will not open. At the origin of this decision is a tweet written in October by Ai Weiwei in relation to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. In response to an Internet user he does not know, the artist writes that “the feeling of guilt linked to the persecution of the Jewish people has sometimes been transferred to the Arab world”. He also highlights the links between Israel and the United States.“The $3 billion in annual aid to Israel has been touted for decades as one of the most valuable investments the United States has ever made. This partnership is often described as a community of destiny. »
In a statement following the cancellation of his exhibition, Ai Weiwei said he tried to write this tweet in a way that “objective and neutral, without moral judgment, without accusation or evaluation of human actions”. But he also underlines that the exercise of simplicity, constrained by the nature of the social network, made it difficult to produce “what we call, the correct expression. » Ai Weiwei accepts the gallery’s decision, believing that it “was taken to avoid further litigation and for (its) own well-being “.
But for this activist who denounces censorship in China and who fled his country for the same reason, this decision raises the question of freedom of expression. He adds in his long tweet: “In art, when there are no-go areas, it results in the type of art we often see today. It comes from a good education, where certain expressions are favored and others discarded. Without freedom of expression, the fundamental existence of art and expression would be in jeopardy. »
Ai Weiwei’s studio also announced that its solo exhibition “Butterfly”, scheduled from November 4 to January 6, 2024 at the Max Hetzler gallery in Paris, has also been canceled. The Lisson gallery did not respond to our requests.