Chinese dissident and artist Ai Weiwei has said his new exhibition at the Lisson Gallery in London has been canceled after he posted comments on social media referencing the Israel-Hamas war.
The Lisson Gallery in London has canceled plans to hold an Ai Weiwei show following a social media post by the artist about the Israel-Hamas war.
The show was expected to start on Wednesday (November 15).
Chinese contemporary artists are known for their political commentary and activism on human rights issues. He has been vocal in support of the Palestinians.
In a since-deleted tweet, Ai reportedly wrote: “The sense of guilt surrounding the persecution of the Jewish people has, at times, been transferred to harass the Arab world. The Jewish community has had a significant presence in the United States, in terms of financial, cultural, and media influence.
The tweet continued: “The annual $3 billion aid package to Israel has, for decades, been considered one of the most valuable investments the United States has made. This partnership is often described as one of shared destiny.”
In the wake of the tweet, a representative of Lisson said that the exhibition would not go on as planned.
A statement from the gallery said, “After extensive conversations with Ai Weiwei, following a comment she posted online, we together agreed that now is not the right time to present her new work.”
“There is no room for debate that can be described as anti-Semitic or Islamophobic at a time when all efforts must be on ending the tragic suffering in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as in communities internationally. “Ai Weiwei is known for his support of freedom of expression and advocacy for the oppressed, and we deeply respect and value our long-term relationship with him.”
In a statement of his own, Ai said that the show had been “effectively canceled” by the gallery.
He wrote, “In my opinion, all kinds of opinions can be expressed, even if they are not correct.” “False opinions should be especially encouraged. If free expression is limited to only one type of ideas then it becomes a prison of expression. Free speech is about different voices, our voices are different. Simply put, we have never lived in a society with freedom of expression, but rather in a society where speech is not given importance; An individual’s speech is not considered important or acceptable by speech controllers.”
He added: “Cancelling an exhibition is not important at all as there are thousands and tens of thousands of exhibitions still running. Whether I exist or not is not even important because there will always be someone who wants to seek the light and the joy that light brings to life, because people do not like darkness.’
Ai has previously addressed the conflict in his 2017 documentary human flowAbout the global refugee crisis, which included footage shot in Gaza.
A representative for the artist said three other exhibitions in New York, Paris and Berlin had also been cancelled.