Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei had his passport confiscated by Chinese authorities three years ago for reasons never explained to the artist. In a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday, the art community called for the Chinese government to allow Ai to travel freely, and the artist released this video.
Throughout his career, Ai has been outspoken about political injustices in his home country, and in 2011 he was imprisoned for 81 days in a Chinese prison under questionable charges.
In the video above, Ai stresses that he needs his passport to travel to Berlin for a show at Martin-Gropius-Bau, opening April 3. The exhibition, which is called "Evidence" and will be Ai's largest solo show to date, includes an outdoor installation of 6,000 stools, one of Ai's recurring materials. Ai will also need his passport to give talks at an art school in Germany and to travel to San Francisco for an installation at Alcatraz Island that is scheduled for 2014. Ai calls for the return of his passport in the video and demands to know why it was confiscated.
Many people in the art world have shown their admiration for Ai's resilience despite the hostility faces from his homeland. Last week Shepard Fairey released a new print in support of the artist. The black and red poster depicts Ai with a scar on his head, an injury he received from a conflict with Chinese policemen that is recorded in the movie Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. Proceeds for the poster are going to Friends of Ai Weiwei, an organization that is working to get Ai's passport back.