Ai Weiwei’s Cover for TIME Is Ok

June 6, 2013 | Kyle Chayka

Well-known Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei just did the cover art for this month’s issue of TIME magazine.

While the cover bears many visual similarities to the Chinese propaganda posters of yesteryear it remains quite timid in comparison to some of the artist’s more recent works. It’s also clean and simple, and okay. Ai Weiwei as persecuted activist still seems much more interesting than Ai Weiwei as artist.

Recently, the artist’s work has been referencing his politically motivated incarceration —   examples of this being his prison dioramas that were featured in this year’s Venice Biennale as well as his new metal music video featuring scenes of the artist in prison, as well as in drag.

TIME’s Managing Editor Rick Stengel had the following to say regarding the cover:

The striking cover image is itself a work of artistic supremacy…. The image represents [Ai’s] acknowledgment of the country’s centrality in the world while at the same time challenging China’s leaders to make the future a freer and more democratic one.

 (Images: Adam Dean-Panos/TIME)