Closing down online stores for carrying counterfeit Yeezys and Givenchys is certainly justified, but not this. An e-shop selling pro-Ai Weiwei T-shirts recently got shut down by Taobao, the Chinese equivalent of Ebay. Nevermind returning Ai his passport, let the people shop, China.
Recall that back in September, Ai's supporters took to social media to take part in "Ai Can't Be Here," a project which aims to help the Chinese dissident artist get his passport back. The campaign's slogan is pretty straightforward: "If #AiCan'tBeHere, 爱 (the Chinese character for 'love') can't be here." Part of the message also inspired the aforementioned tops.
The shirts' design consists of the latter part of the slogan, "爱 can't be here," emblazoned across the backdrop of a brick wall. Until this past Tuesday, they were being sold for $16.30 each on Taobao.
"They didn’t even give me a warning,” said Wu Tun, the creator of the T-shirts. The site simply alerted the 28-year-old that his store was being terminated for "seriously violating" the company's rules, though his "violation" is subtle. If you don't understand Chinese, you may have missed the slogan's play on words.
Although "爱can't be here" simply translates to "love can't be here," the Chinese word is also pronounced "ai." It's a hononym and no doubt an allusion to Ai Weiwei.
“I’d just like him to get his passport back,” said Wu, who is an artist currently employed by Ai's studio. "As ... a Chinese artist, I don't want all these happen [sic] to me, that's why I have been supporting at my hardest," he wrote in an Instagram caption. Dude managed to sell only 10 shirts before Taobao closed down his shop.
Wu, however, doesn't seem deterred. In fact, it looks like he's got a new store up and running on a different e-commerce platform.
[via ArtNet News]