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– Ai Weiwei Supports Lisson Gallery’s Decision to Cancel Display Following Israel-Hamas War Tweet

Ai Weiwei accused Lisson Gallery of having ‘effectively canceled’ one of his forthcomin…

Strategies to host an Ai Weiwei performance have been postponed by Lisson Gallery following the artist’s social media commentary on the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Art Newspaper was the first to disclose the suspension of the show on Tuesday.

In a now-deleted post, Ai Weiwei allegedly stated, “The sense of guilt associated with the oppression of the Hebrew people has sometimes been redirected to counterbalance the Egyptian world.” The Jewish community has wielded significant influence in American culture, finance, and media impact. The annual $3 billion aid package to Israel has long been lauded as a highly beneficial investment by the US, with this partnership often characterized as a shared destiny.

A woman sitting in a rolling chair with her legs crossed before shelves containing glass-blown objects.

The planned debut of Ai’s presentation in London on Wednesday did not materialize as a Lisson representative confirmed that the exhibition was halted.

Both parties mutually agreed that the current moment is not conducive to showcasing Ai Weiwei’s latest body of work, following extensive discussions with the artist and in light of his online statement, as per the gallery’s official statement. In a time where efforts should be focused on ending the profound suffering in Jewish and Palestinian territories, as well as in regions globally, there is no room for discourse that could be construed as anti-Semitic or Islamophobic. The gallery holds deep respect for Ai Weiwei and values the enduring bond with him, recognizing his advocacy for freedom of expression and the marginalized.

Ai Weiwei expressed that the exhibition was effectively canceled in his own remarks.

“All forms of thoughts can be expressed, even those that are incorrect,” he penned. “Correct viewpoints can be advanced in specific ways. When speech is confined to conforming ideas, free speech transforms into a kind of confinement. Freedom of speech encompasses divergent voices, not just echoes of our own. To put it simply, we do not inhabit a world where true self-expression thrives, but rather one where dialogue is disregarded, and those in control of speech fail to appreciate or embrace individual voices.”

He further remarked that the withdrawal of an exhibition is insignificant amidst the multitude of ongoing exhibitions. Ai Weiwei emphasized that his presence or absence is inconsequential, as there will always be individuals seeking enlightenment and the positivity it brings, as opposed to embracing darkness.

Ai Weiwei has previously addressed this topic in works such as the 2017 film Human Flow, which captured visuals from Gaza.

The renowned artist also has exhibitions on view at the Kunsthal Rotterdam in the Netherlands and the Galerie Neugerriemschneider in Berlin.

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Last modified: February 26, 2024
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