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Ai Weiwei's brand new Shanghai studio, commissioned by the government, was demolished on Tuesday, by the government. This piece by Evan Osnos in the New Yorker today is really good. Ai comes across as someone rock hard, undaunted but never unconcerned – he is not practicing in some kind of intellectual white cube vacuum, removed from his political and social context. At the same time, his keen political awareness and activism isn't watering down his art. It is all art. And the important thing is to keep moving.
"Ai was eventually released from house arrest, and he said he was told the demolition in Shanghai would begin sometime after Chinese New Year, which falls on February 3rd this year. Yesterday, however, he received another call, this time from a neighbor in Shanghai; the demolition had begun without warning. He hopped a plane, and by the time he arrived, the artist in him—he is known, after all, for his gleeful destruction of ancient urns—couldn’t help but be impressed by the speed of the destruction. “They had a very professional demolition team. Two sides, each side had four machines, big machines tearing it down and breaking it. I watched until night came.” He sent photos and videos out over the Web.
“I thought, huh, the destruction of it has already made it art. Art exists in different forms. What is art? Should we go back to the age of only sculpture? At least a hundred thousand people knew this news over the Internet. They watched it in front of their eyes.” […]
When we spoke by phone at midnight Wednesday, he was already back in Beijing. “It all goes down so fast. There’s no reason to stay,” he said, his tone alert and directed, rather than aggrieved. “Everything is in the past. And we have to look forward,” he added, sounding like a marathoner with miles left to run."

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