In spite of being on virtual house arrest in China, world’s most powerful artist Ai Weiwei has directed a cover photo shoot for W Magazine via Skype from his studio in Beijing. Inspired by Ai’s own photos of the 1980’s Tompkins Square riots, the feature stars a fashionable PYT getting kidnapped from a protest, dragged off by grim official-looking types and forced to shower in front of them in a disused part of the Rikers Island prison. Ai thinks that’s funny.
A bitter-sweet conglomeration of ironies it is indeed. For the project, Ai directed Rolling Stone photographer Max Vadukul pro bono. “Without humor there is no work,” he said.
After spending 80-days in cruel, unjustified detention, Ai’s still facing unrelenting persecution and censorship in his own country. The W mag’s sixth annual art issue hits the stands in November.
“Enforced Disappearance.” How subtle. Na-na na-na boo-boo.