The South China Morning Post said Ai had told his aides that he had twice been invited to join the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an advisory body made up of non-Communist party members, including high-profile figures such as artists and athletes. It was not clear whether they were referring to the national body or one of its subordinate bodies, or how Ai had responded, it added.An assistant to the artist confirmed to the Guardian that domestic security police had visited the studio at the end of March. Ai subsequently said the officers were very polite and had asked him to join the CPPCC.The assistant said that the artist was not joking, adding: "I remember when I heard this I was somehow relieved, because I thought that if they were being polite to him and asking him to join the CPPCC, they wouldn't arrest him or do anything bad to him. It seems that I was wrong."Ai's friend Wen Tao, 38, his cousin and driver Zhang Jinsong, also known as Xiao Pang, and accountant Ms Hu are still missing. Staff and volunteers at the studio have been questioned.
BLVR: I read somewhere that museums in China will rent space to any artist who’ll pay for a show.
AW: I don’t think China has professional museums— not in the past, present, or near future. The museums used to be exhibition halls for government propaganda, and now every city wants to build a museum. A few thousand are to be built in the next few years, all using taxpayer money. But there is no system, no research, no content, no good programs, no good managers. It all belongs to the cultural department, which is the biggest cultural department in the world. They understand nothing but bureaucratic daily affairs. They don’t care about culture. Maybe they’re the furthest from the people who understand culture. Everything is selected by the central government without good judgment or an understanding of culture to make it really safe.They will become nobody to maintain their power and be raised to the next higher level.
BLVR: Which explains the circumstances of the infamous Fuck Off exhibit. You cocurated and held the show in opposition to the Shanghai Biennale in 2000 only to be shut down by officials four days after the simultaneous openings. Did it make you shy away from curating more controversial shows?
AW: When I curated this show, I was by no means trying to shock people or be controversial. Fuck is the reality; to say “fuck off ” is an essential attitude for an intellectual artist stating his own individual mind toward any kind of authority, which can be cultural and political. It has been my attitude for as long as I’ve been practicing art and other cultural-related activities. But, of course, you don’t have to state that in every moment. If there’s the right condition, I always want to express the concept or ideas in a very independent way.