Free Ai Weiwei street art campaign

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Free Ai Weiwei street art campaign is a "guerilla methods" of political street art protest against the PRC government's secret detention of world famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei since April 3, 2011, organized by Hong Kong artists and art supporters, calling for the immediate release of the artist. Various slogans such as "Free Ai Weiwei", and "Who's afraid of Ai Weiwei" accompany stenciled images of Ai are being applied onto street pavements, pedestrian overpass, and building walls all over Hong Kong.[1][2]


Tangerine, a 22 year old student artist, was the first Hong Kong artist using graffiti art to promote the awareness of Ai Weiwei among the island's population, by spray-painting Ai's image, with the slogan: "Who's afraid of Ai Weiwei", onto street pavement and building wall using a stencil, resulting in Hong Kong police serious crime squad conducting a criminal damage investigation against her, thus turning her into an "inadvertent counterculture icon." Tangerine's comment towards the police:

I have to thank the police for drawing so much attention to this issue. Even if I have to go to jail, I think that would be a very, very worth it price to pay."[3]

On April 23, 2011, about 2000 people marched through Hong Kong streets to support Ai Weiwei, many of them carrying placards with images copying Tangerine's graffiti art, with many similar images being spray-painted on building walls, to protest against police heavy-handed action.[4]

Projected graffiti[edit]

An artist calling himself Cpak Ming projected a giant stenciled Ai Weiwei image onto police, army, and various government building walls, and photographs of these images were being uploaded onto Facebook support Ai Weiwei accounts, and a PLA spokesperson said they would "reserve its legal rights to act".[5][6][7][8]

Victoria Park 1001 chairs protest[edit]

On May 2, 2011, Lee Cheuk-yan of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China organized about 200 Hong Kong protesters in Victoria Park using chairs to create a formation represents the Chinese word "prisoner" (Chinese:囚), and they then broke through the chair barrier, "as though they were breaking down the one-party prison. "[9]

"Love the Future"[edit]

To rally citizens to protest the detention of Ai Weiwei, online commentators have taken up the slogan "Love the Future" (爱未来), which both resembles and sounds similar to Ai's name (艾未未). Calls range from the energetic ("To love the future is to love yourself. Fill the microblogs with love. Fill the motherland with love. Donate your love to the future of the motherland") to the despondent ("I really don't dare believe that in this society, even love for the future can disappear").[10]


On 8 May 2011, Hong Kong police arrested two League of Social Democrats protesters for using chalk to write "Free Ai Weiwei" slogans on the street, when more than 100 protesters took part in "All Hong Kong support graffiti" activities and were encouraged to create graffiti on the street with chalk. The chairman of League of Social Democrats, Andrew To commented that the Hong Kong government is over sensitive and nervous about the graffiti that it behaves like birds that are frighten of sling shots (Chinese:驚弓之鳥). The two protesters were being released the next day on bail.[11]


  1. ^|The Street Art Campaign to Free Ai Weiwei Ujala Sehgal Apr 24 2011,
  2. ^ Art In The Streets of Hong Kong For Ai Weiwei |May 1st, 2011 | Author: The Huffington Post News Team
  3. ^ Who's afraid of Ai Weiwei? Graffiti girl risks ten years in jail
  4. ^ "Who's Afraid of Ai WeiWei?" Graffiti Campaign Challenges Chinese Artist's Arrest posted by: Kristina Chew
  5. ^ Ai Weiwei backers project graffiti image onto landmark buildings|Phyllis Tsang Apr 29, 2011
  6. ^ |China army warns over Ai Weiwei image in Hong Kong (AFP) – Apr 30, 2011
  7. ^ In Defence of Street Art|30/April/2011
  8. ^ Pro-Ai graffiti in Hong Kong sparks warning by Chinese army
  9. ^ |港支联会举行活动 再撑艾未未 记者: 莉雅 2011年 5月 02日
  10. ^ China Digital Times
  11. ^ 塗鴉案首拘人 本港緊跟中央路線及成了驚弓之鳥 2011-05-09

External links[edit]