Ma visits exhibition by ‘Absent’ rights activist Ai Weiwei

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–President Ma Ying-jeou visited artist Ai Weiwei’s (艾未未) art exhibition in Taipei, yesterday evening, to show support for freedom in artistic creation and human rights.

To reduce the distance between Taiwan and mainland China, both sides will need to be on the same page in regards to human rights, Ma said, after visiting the exhibition halls.

Ma’s presence at the “Ai Weiwei Absent” show at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館) highlights Taiwan’s commitment to human rights, and marks a major development of relations across the Taiwan Strait, an unidentified presidential aide stated.

Ai is known as one of the most outspoken critics of censorship in China and the control the Communist Party exerts over the Chinese society. He was detained by the Chinese authorities in April during a sweeping crackdown on artists, and his detention sparked outrage around the world, especially among human rights activists. Although he was released in June, he has been ordered not to leave Beijing and was recently slapped with a huge fine for tax evasion.

Ai said during a recent interview with Taiwan’s Central Broadcasting System (CBS) that the “Ai Weiwei Absent” show not only sheds light on his absence from Taipei but also on Taiwan’s absence from international politics.

“Taipei or Taiwan has drifted away from the global political mainstream because it has never dared to speak out its legitimate rights,” he said in the interview. Also, few Taiwanese politicians had visited the show over the past three-plus weeks, not even the show’s host Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin or Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen, Ai observed.

Ma’s visit to Ai’s exhibition could be viewed as a rebuttal to the Chinese artist’s claim, according to a presidential aide, who said , “The president will be using his action to prove that Taiwan will not absent itself from human rights promotion.” Ai is a special artist, Ma said after visiting the show. His installations could be interpreted differently under different context, he pointed out, taking as example “Marble Surveillance Camera”, a piece that was intended to be a sarcastic reflection of the modern living environment.

“Few in Taiwan would regard surveillance cameras as an invading tool against human rights,” Ma said, adding that many residents of Taipei City even request that more surveillance cameras be installed to ensure safety.