After 43 days of detention, reports broke earlier today that Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was allowed a visit from his wife Lu Qing on Sunday. A friend of Weiwei’s, rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, confirmed that the artist had not been tortured or ill-handled, and that he was receiving medication for his diabetes and high blood pressure.
More text and images after the jump…
According to the Washington Post, the meeting occurred on Sunday. “Ai’s wife Lu Qing received a call from her local police station in Beijing [...] Ai’s wife was then taken by authorities to an unfamiliar place in Beijing where she was able to sit across a table from her husband and talk to him” for less than half an hour.
Weiwei’s whereabouts remain undisclosed, and due to the short nature of the heavily supervised visit, more details on his condition were not able to be divulged. Mr. Ai is not being detained in a jail or hospital; his wife told the New York Times, “It appears he’s not in handcuffs, he was not wearing prison clothes and he was allowed to move freely within where he is living now. So I guess it’s a form of house arrest, under supervision.” During the visit, Weiwei, 53, was mainly concerned about the health of his 80-year old mother.
Qing told the AP, “He has changed. His mood and demeanor are so different from the simple and spontaneous Ai Weiwei I know. It was obvious that without freedom to express himself he was not behaving naturally even with me.”
The art world has shown an immense amount of solidarity for Weiwei’s release, and his works have continued to be shown in his absence. The most recent of his exhibitions, a survey at Lisson Gallery, opened last week.
The visit marks the first time anyone has heard from Ai Weiwei since his arrest at the Beijing airport on April 3, 2011. The artist is said to be under investigation for economic crimes toward the Chinese government, but has yet to be charged.
- J. Lindblad
China Allows Dissident Artist’s Wife to Visit Him [NY Times]
Detained Chinese Artist Ai Weiei Allowed to See Wife [Washington Post]
Detained China Artist Ai Weiwei Gets First Family Visit [BBC]
China Allows Detained Artist to Visit Family [WSJ]
Ai Weiei in ‘good physical health but mentally conflicted’ [Guardian]
Detained Chinese Artist Allowed Family Visit [Time]