Ai Weiwei sends empty chair to Stockholm Film Festival as protest
Nov. 6, 2013, 8:40 AM EST
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has sent an empty chair to fill his spot on the Stockholm Film Festival jury as a protest after he was banned from travelling to Sweden for the event. Weiwei was arrested in 2011 and imprisoned for 81 days without charge after investigating an alleged government cover up following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
He has been prevented from leaving China since his release from jail and was unable to take up his place on the jury panel of the Scandinavian film festival, which started on Wednesday (06Nov13), so he sent a specially made chair to the event to protest against the travel restrictions.
The artist explained his absence and the chair in a pre-recorded video message shown at a news conference on Tuesday (05Nov13), saying, "I feel sorry I can't come. That's why I have designed and sent something symbolic. I hope it can give some kind of statement on the way authorities can limit freedom of speech, can limit basic human rights for artists to travel or participate in cultural activities - very ruthlessly and with no explanation... I'm still living under a kind of soft detention. My passport is still in the authorities' hands."