Ai Weiwei attacks VW and Audi

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Ai Weiwei

The 61-year-old artist in the atrium of his Berlin basement studio. He is currently preparing his probably biggest retrospective, which will start in Dusseldorf in the middle of May.

(Photo: Heiko Richard for Handelsblatt magazine)

DusseldorfThe Berlin-based Chinese artist Ai Weiwei accuses the German car companies VW and Audi to be at least indirectly part of Western censorship. The reason for his annoyance: Ai had been involved in the film "Berlin, I love you", which was then rejected by the Berlinale leadership, "although the segment that I edited had already been removed before," he said. Year-old talking to Handelsblatt magazine, which will be published on Friday.

"The refusal was clearly justified to the producers of the film because the film is in connection with me. I wonder why? Because among the partners of the festival was also a Chinese sponsor. But even if that had not been the case, Audi and the Volkswagen Group are main sponsors of the Berlinale, "said Ai, who added:" The CEO of VW has made it clear: 'The future of Volkswagen will be decided in China.' "

Festivals certainly have the right to refuse contributions. I do not criticize that. Then, however, the film of my colleague Zhang Yimou was withdrawn. I was asked if it was a technical problem. It's never a technical problem. The Berlinale has been cooperating with China for many years, "Ai told Handelsblatt magazine.

"You are only allowed to show films that receive the Chinese Censorship Dragon Seal. Most films would not receive the seal if the censorship had not interfered so relentlessly. Every scene, every line of text is checked again and again. Even the face of a performer is not spared by censorship. It's like being at the slaughterhouse. "He accuses the Berlinale leadership of" anticipating Chinese censorship. It recognizes the authority of censorship. That's an unacceptable scandal. "

Audi AG rejected the allegation of exerting influence on Handelsblatt magazine: "The assumption of the artist Ai Weiwei is without any foundation." The Ingolstadt-based company, also a subsidiary of Volkswagen, explains: "Audi AG has been the main sponsor of the Berlinale since 2014. As a sponsor partner, we basically have no influence on the artistic orientation of the festival, let alone on the selection or the awarding of prizes for individual films. For this reason, of course, no company representative is a member of the jury of the Berlinale, which alone is responsible for the selection and assessment of films. "

Similarly, the Berlinale commented: "We notice that Ai Weiwei is currently using the Berlinale and in particular the current attention for Chinese films at the Berlinale in order to achieve media attention. It should be noted that the participation or non-participation of Ai Weiwei has no relevance to the selection of a film at the Berlinale, and we refuse to make any allegations. "

In Düsseldorf, the largest retrospective that the artist has so far experienced is currently being prepared – until now unaffected by the Berlin hassle. Starting in mid-May, several key works by Ai Weiwei will be presented in several museums in the Rhine metropolis, reminding at the same time: "China must change fundamentally, otherwise it will become an uncontrollable risk for the world community." The political and social developments in his homeland are "not only a threat to China, but for the whole world, which is hardly able to break away from China."

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