英国每日电讯报 6月15日 By Peter Foster World June 15th, 2011
或许所有这些嘟囔的矛盾都无关紧要。毕竟，中国奥运会预示着基本自由的恶化，而不是如每个人所允诺的社会进步，但是全世界只顾享受着宏伟盛会，对这一尴尬的事实却视而不见——正如中国统治者所期待的那样。泰特博物馆的主管Nicholas Serota爵士，签署了古根海姆发起的释放艾未未的请愿书，据推测他将不会前往，但是其他显贵们将会参加。去年11月份，大英博物馆馆长尼尔麦格雷戈（Neil MacGregor）和时任维多利亚和艾伯特博物馆馆长的马克.琼斯爵士，作为大卫卡梅伦贸易代表团的成员来到北京，宣布举办一个关于陶瓷的巡回展览，作为“英国现在”盛会的组成部分。
By Peter Foste
@duyanpili 译 原文链接：http://goo.gl/IgxDs
China and Ai Weiwei: Britain's art establishment is about to walk into a minefield
By Peter Foster World Last updated: June 15th, 2011
Anish Kapoor’s refusal to exhibit in China next year, in protest at the detention of Ai Weiwei, is a blow to the British Council’s “UK Now” project, which plans to exhibit British arts in 12 cities across China from April-November 2012.
The idea is to capitalise on London taking over the Olympic torch from the Chinese and deepen cross-cultural exchanges between our two countries. The detention of Ai Weiwei must be very inconvenient for the organisers, but I wonder if this project will be able to shake the ever-lengthening shadow of Ai, whose work lit up the Tate Modern’s turbine halls so spectacularly this year in London.
How easy will it be to find sponsors? How will they avoid the kind of opprobrium that was heaped on the Germans who pressed ahead with their “Enlightenment” exhibition which opened as Ai was being bundled into the police van.
How comfortable will it be for senior figures in the British arts and political establishment to be hobnobbing with the Communist Party’s cultural tsars when Ai, China’s most internationally famous artist, still in jail – as its reasonable to presume he will be?
Perhaps such groaning contradictions won’t matter. After all, China’s Olympic heralded a worsening of basic freedoms here, not – as everyone had promised – social progress, but the world turned a blind eye to that inconvenient fact, and enjoyed the grand spectacle just as the Mandarins had hoped they would.
Presumably Sir Nicholas Serota, the Tate’s director who signed the Guggenheim’s petition to free Ai Weiwei won’t be coming, but plenty of other grandees will. Last November Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, and Sir Mark Jones, then director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, came to Beijing as part of David Cameron’s trade delegation and announced plans for a travelling ceramics exhibition as part of the UK Now festival.
Should that now go ahead? Many will say not, though it might seem unfair to punish the Chinese public for the excesses of their politicians. At the very least, Neil MacGregor, the boss of the British Museum, should explain why he thinks it is right, in the current climate, that his institution should be collaborating with China’s cultural establishment at this level.
Mr MacGregor has a reputation as an honest, highly-principled man (he refused a knighthood, which I admire) but since Ai’s detention I can’t find a single public pronouncement on the subject from him. This is odd. He has strong connections with China, and was instrumental in brokering a landmark UK-China cultural engagement deal in 2006 as well as the largest ever of terracotta warriors to Britain.
Uncomfortable it might be for Mr MacGregor, but he should at least articulate in public his reasons for pressing ahead with this. The British Council’s chief executive, Martin Davidson, has said he’s hopeful that the UK Now project will go ahead, making the usual claims for the benefits of engagement with China.
“It is through cultural exchange that we best demonstrate the benefits of free artistic expression and build supportive links between people in the UK and China,” he said.
Trouble is, I’m not that really washes any more.
Whether we like it or not, staging this nine-month cultural road-show basically comes down to the British art establishment giving “face” (all important in China) to an institution that locks up artists it finds inconvenient.
And even if we don’t intend that to be the message, you can be sure that’s how the Chinese will take it: a tacit endorsement of behaviour that breaks all international norms; a clear sign that with the right incentives, Britain is always prepared to look the other way.
I hope that’s not correct, as the politics of this is unavoidable.
Ai Weiwei update:
The latest news on Ai Weiwei is no news. We spoke with his sister Gao Ge today. She says they contacted the tax authorities on June 1 and June 14 for information on the investigation into Ai’s alleged economic crimes, but were told there was “no information available”.
They have also sent letters to the Beijing public security bureau to enquire of Ai’s driver, designer, accountant and volunteer worker who have also been detained for more than two months by the police. No response forthcoming there either.
It seems there is nothing to do, but wait.