Outspoken Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has vowed to throw a party in Shanghai this weekend to "celebrate" his government's imminent destruction of his new art studio in the city.
The Beijing-based Ai invited fans and supporters — via Twitter — to a "River Crab Fest" at his newly built Shanghai studio on Sunday.
The artist, who said he will offer guests a banquet featuring the seasonal delicacy and Chinese wine, is drawing attention to the recent revelation the government has deemed his studio illegal and will demolish it for lack of proper permits.
According to Ai, government representatives first came to visit him in Beijing about two years ago to invite him to open a studio in Shanghai in an agricultural district being redeveloped as a cultural hub. These officials assured him they would procure the necessary paperwork for studio, he said.
However, the authorities now accuse him of raising a structure without securing the proper permits, with demolition the only recourse.
The conceptual artist, whose recent Sunflower Seeds exhibit made headlines and caused a buzz at London's Tate Modern, has regularly sparked controversy for his outspoken critiques of the Chinese government.
Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron on the acclaimed "Bird's Nest" stadium built for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing but then renounced his participation in the Games, charging that China was offering a whitewashed image to the world.
In the summer of 2009, during his personal and continuing investigation into the deaths of more than 5,000 schoolchildren in the Sichuan earthquake of May 2008 — he posted the increasing tally on his blog — Ai was regularly followed by plainsclothes police.
His blog was shut down. He also suffered a beating — one he claims was conducted by police officials — while in Sichuan province in August 2009, just before he was to testify in a court case involving another activist researching the earthquake.
Not long after the attack, Ai travelled to Germany for an exhibit and underwent emergency surgery to alleviate intercranial bleeding, believed to be a result of the beating.