Tag Archives: Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei and Julian Assange post middle fingers on Instagram - The Guardian 20150917

Ai Weiwei and Julian Assange post selfie on Instagram - The Guardian 20150917

Dissidents raise the finger with a grin at the Ecuadorian embassy, London

Ai Weiwei and Julian Assange post selfie on Instagram
Julian Assange, right and Ai Weiwei, who has a Royal Academy exhibition opening on Saturday.

Ai Weiwei and Julian Assange have made what seem to be gestures of contempt for their critics in a selfie posted to an Instagram account.

Ai Weiwei review – momentous and moving

If there were any who doubted Ai Weiwei’s work matched his reputation, this rollercoaster of a show – racing between his time in jail, the Sichuan earthquake and 3,000 crabs – should silence them

The picture, which was uploaded to Ai’s Instagram account on Wednesday and is understood to have been taken inside the Ecuadorian embassy in west London, shows both men grinning impishly at the camera, left hands raised with their middle fingers extended.

Assange, head of the WikiLeaks whistleblowing website, has had refuge at the embassy since 2012, because of the threat of being extradited to Sweden where he faces an arrest warrant relating to allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Assange also fears the possibility of onward extradition to the US, where authorities are believed to be building an espionage case against him for publishing secrets about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for obtaining US diplomatic cables, which embroiled the country in huge international scandals. He could not be reached for comment on Thursday. And a spokesperson for WikiLeaks could not say what he and Ai spoke about at the embassy.

The artist and dissident Ai was detained without charge in China for 81 days in 2011, during a crackdown there on political activists. The government also confiscated his passport, returning it in July, after which he travelled to German, and Britain, despite UK border authorities initially refusing him a visa.

The supposedly most egregious crime of Ai, a persistent critic of China’s regime, was to have created an artwork composed of 9,000 children’s backpacks, as a commentary on the multiple school building collapses during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which killed thousands of pupils.

Ai also published the names of 5,000 of the dead schoolchildren, prompting authorities to shut down his blog, demolish his studio, investigate him on charges of pornography, bigamy, tax avoidance and foreign currency irregularities, and beat him until he suffered brain injury.

At the Royal Academy, in London, Ai currently has a retrospective, opening to the public on Saturday, featuring artworks dating to 1993, the year he returned to Beijing after living in the US for 12 years.

Artistic response on surveillance in the post-Snowden era - Elevate Festival PRO 201511

Artistic response on surveillance and the deep web in the post-Snowden era

The Internet as we know it is just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath there lies another dimension of data, the ”deep web”. The deep web is that part of the world wide web not indexed by standard search engines. Since the Snowden revelations we know that intelligence agencies commonly use the Internet for mass surveillance, so this deep web has become the only ”free net”.

In parallel existence to the deep web is the ”darknet”, a term often used by the press to describe an anonymous peer-to-peer network, only accessible via certain software (e.g. Tor), which uses encryption to hide the user's identities. The darknet gained a lot of media attention when the virtual marketplace for illegal goods “Silk Road” was seized by the FBI in 2013.

Whistleblowers and journalists rely on the anonymous channels of communication offered by the structures of the dark web. Such technology is becoming a necessary tool for activists who fight political censorship and the repression of free speech.

These two facets of the global data network that we call the “Internet” have sparked a public discourse about Internet censorship and net neutrality.

More and more Internet artists are making use of the hidden potential of the deep web, engaging with themes of surveillance, privacy, code, anonymity, hacking and journalism. With a focus on the intersection of art, technology and politics, they deliver a creative response to recent events which are changing our world.

In this event, Addie Wagenknecht reports on the ”Deep Lab”, the traces of cyberfeminism and how to use drones to make art. !Mediengruppe Bitnik and hacktivist/artist Jacob Appelbaum, who recently collaborated with Ai Weiwei, speak about their position as artists and their creative response to new media. Both Appelbaum and Weiwei experienced direct political repression at the hands of the secret service because of their work.


Jacob Appelbaum (US)
!Mediengruppe Bitnik (CH) - via Videostream
Addie Wagenknecht (US) - via Videostream

Moderation: Berit Gilma (Elevate/AT)