Ai Weiwei, a Chinese artist of the con type that is usually idolised by the capitalist market as a ‘dissident’ voice, has recently been interviewed in his luxury villa in Portugal about his latest work of art, a statue of Mikhail Gorbachev, which was commissioned in Berlin for the 30th anniversary of the “reunification” of Germany. Some would replace the reunification of Germany with “the end of the USSR” or more laughably still “the end of history”, which is more often what these types of people celebrate; and what Gorbachev is despised for – aside from the humiliating Pizza Hutt ad he starred in. (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/ai-weiwei-monument-mikhail-gorbachev-1949978).
We are led to believe Ai Weiwei is living abroad because he was “imprisoned, beaten, and surveilled” by the CPC in 2011 for “his artworks critiquing the state and his investigations into state malfeasance”. Meanwhile in the real world he was charged with and found guilty of tax evasion and had to serve his legal (too short) prison sentence. What the West is really alarmed about is that millionaires in China seem to not be above the law. In the interview Ai Weiwei said “Gorbachev is one of the most important thinkers, visionaries, who helped establish a new possibility for society”, when the fact is the only possibility Gorbachev helped establish was that of such economic devastation that Russia suffered a 5 year drop in life expectancy between 1989 and 2003. (https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/RUS/russia/lifeexpectancy)
The particular statue, place and timing amount to a desperate plea to bring back the good old days when one could simply make socialist nations bend the knee to imperialism. Ai Weiwei wants to see China get dismantled the way the USSR was. He finally not only identifies with, but praises the Hong Kong protesters as heroes, for “fighting for democracy and civil society with no real hope that they would achieve their aims”. Of course this is a lie – who would fight without hoping to achieve some aim? What Ai Weiwei does not want us to know, but what many now understand, is that the real aim of the Hong Kong protests is to destabilise China and promote a “Gorbachev” strategy, i.e. abolish the Communist Party and remove the central organising principle of the system to let the entrepreneurial and individualists like Ai Weiwei, find ‘creative’ opportunities to enrich themselves unperturbed.
But times have changed and the sun is now rising in the East. No amount of postmodern art propaganda on CIA’s payroll can succeed in convincing everybody about the superiority of western capitalist ideology, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic failures. The likes of Ai Weiwei might continue to follow their paymaster’s orders to paint China as an authoritarian dystopia but people are no longer fooled as to who are the real imperialist oppressors and warmongers. Ultimately, the only thing Weiwei curates is his own demise and irrelevance in relation to the art and society of the future. Let us remember instead the name of the great Chinese sculptor Wu Weishan, who created the huge bronze statue of Karl Marx, offered as a gift from China to Germany for the bicentennial of Marx’s birth.
Chinese artist Wu Weishan works on German philosopher Karl Marx’s statue in his studio. The statue was officially inaugurated in Trier, Germany on the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth. [Photo China Daily)