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Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Under House Arrest For Protest Party

Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei holds some seeds from his Unilever Installation 'Sunflower Seeds' at The Tate Modern. (Getty Images Europe)

Ai Weiwei is possibly China's most famous artist. He was one of the designers of the famous "Bird's Nest" stadium made so famous by the 2008 Olympics. And his piece "Sunflower Seeds," which was installed recently at the Tate Modern in London to rave reviews. It features millions of hand-crafted porcelain sunflower seeds.

But as he's become better known, he's also become a critic of the Chinese government. As a result, they slated his studio in Shanghai for demolition. His response, to throw a party at the studio in a tongue in cheek protest, twittering an invite to whomever wanted to come. Thousands said they would.

Here's how the Christian Science Monitor reports they responded:

“They came at half past midnight and told me they did not wish me to go to Shanghai,” Ai said by telephone from his walled compound home on the outskirts of Beijing. “I said that I had already announced the party and that I could not not go.

“They suggested I should announce that I was under house arrest,” Ai said. “I told them I could not say that unless I was under house arrest.”

After three more visits and continued discussion on Friday morning, Ai recounted, “they told me at 1:30 this afternoon that I was under house arrest.”

The Guardian quotes Ai as saying this kind of action is why he's critical of the state.

This is the general tragedy of this nation. Everything has to be dealt with by police. It is like you use an axe to do all the housework because this is the only tool you have.

He says police have told him he can leave his house after the date for the party has passed.

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