Ai Weiwei's Mindblowing New Work Graphically Documents His 81-Day Imprisonment

Ai WeiWei Art Work Ai Weiwei Disposition

For 81 days in 2011, Ai Weiwei, a Chinese artist known for his critiques of the modern Chinese state, was detained by security forces. His crime was allegedly “tax evasion,” and during his imprisonment, two guards watched over him as ate, slept and used the bathroom in a tiny cell.

That detention caused protests around the world, and it is now the subject of Ai Weiwei’s latest art work — entitled ‘S.A.C.R.E.D.” and due to go on display during the Venice Biennale this week.


The six pieces that make up S.A.C.R.E.D will be on display from the Zuecca Project Space at the Church of Sant’Antonin, running in parallel with the Biennale but not officially a part of it.


The artwork is made up of six black iron boxes arranged like pews in the church.

Each box has a small slit through which the viewer can look inside and see the diorama inside, each a different vision of his life during imprisonment.


The New York Times reports that 20 to 30 people were involved in the project, one of Ai Weiwei’s most political works to date.

The sculptures were made in China, but Ai Weiwei refuses to say how they were smuggled out of the country.

Ai WeiWei Art Work Ai Weiwei Disposition

The images show guards watching over Ai Weiwei at his most intimate moments. The artist told the New York Times that he wanted “give people a clear understanding of the conditions.”

Ai WeiWei Art Work Ai Weiwei Disposition

The artwork was organised with the help of Nicholas Logsdail of London’s Lisson Gallery, and will run until November 24.

Ai WeiWei Art Work Ai Weiwei Disposition

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