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John Seed

John Seed


San Diego Sits in for Ai Weiwei: China asks for Return of Chairs

Posted: 05/24/11 05:19 PM ET

Beginning at 11AM on Thursday, May 23rd, members of the San Diego arts community staged a 24-hour sit in at the downtown location of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) in protest of the detainment of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Through the evening and into Friday morning, a total of 48 volunteer participants sat side-by-side in two traditionally styled Chinese chairs for one-hour periods.

MCASD's Director, Hugh M. Davies, hopes the silent protest will further express the museum's support of the artist, whose Beijing studio Museum supporters visited just months before the artist was detained by security agents on April 3rd. Some of the same members of that group had voted to acquire two of Ai Weiwei's marble chairs for the institution's permanent collection just a week before the sit-in.

Two Chinese style wooden chairs, reminiscent of Ai Weiwei's sculpted chairs, were used for the protest. The chairs will remain available in the coming months for museum visitors to occupy as a continued call for the artist's release. Ai Weiwei's sculpted marble chairs are also on view at MCASD as part of the exhibition "Prospect 2011."


Above: Two chairs from detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's "Marble Chair" series, photo courtesy the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art

During the 24 hour protest, photos of the participants were taken, and many also made short statements describing their sentiments and motivations. Please share this blog and slideshow, which features 36 participants and their statements, with your friends all over the world. Help shine a light on the unjust detention of one of China's most prominent artists, Ai Weiwei.

Author's Note, 5/24/2011: Art reports that the Chinese government is now asking MCASD to return the Ai Weiwei marble chairs.

Alexandra Marx, Barbara Chen
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Alexandra Marx, Landscape architect:

"I tried to imagine being in prison for thinking and saying what I want to, but I kept imagining my little boy, and smiling at his freedom to think and say what he wants. Oppression has no place in this world."

Barbara Chen, Stay at home mom:

"Never before has sitting idle been so productive. I came today to sit in solidarity not only for Lao Ai, but for all the artist/activists who have been detained. Specifically, I came to honor my close friend Wu Yuren, who was incarcerated without just cause for over 10 months. DaWu, this chair is for you."
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