“15 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA)” – Power Station of Art, Shanghai, 2014
On 26 April 2014, Ai’s name was removed from a group show taking place at the Shanghai Power Station of Art. The exhibition was held to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the art prize created by Uli Sigg in 1998, with the purpose of promoting and developing Chinese contemporary art. Ai won the Lifetime Contribution Award in 2008 and was part of the jury during the first three editions of the prize. He was then invited to take part in the group show together with the other selected Chinese artists. Shortly before the exhibition’s opening, some museum workers removed his name from the list of winners and jury members painted on a wall. Also, Ai’s works Sunflower Seeds and Stools were removed from the show and kept in a museum office (see photo on Ai Weiwei’s Instagram). Sigg declared that it was not his decision and that it was a decision of the Power Station of Art and the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Culture.
“Hans van Dijk: 5000 Names – UCCA”
In May 2014, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, a non-profit art center situated in the 798 art district of Beijing, held a retrospective exhibition in honor of the late curator and scholar, Hans Van Dijk. Ai, a good friend of Hans and a fellow co-founder of the China Art Archives and Warehouse (CAAW), participated in the exhibition with three artworks. On the day of the opening, Ai realized his name was omitted from both Chinese and English versions of the exhibition’s press release. Ai’s assistants went to the art center and removed his works. It is Ai’s belief that, in omitting his name, the museum altered the historical record of van Dijk’s work with him. Ai started his own research about what actually happened, and between 23 and 25 May he interviewed the UCCA’s director, Philip Tinari, the guest curator of the exhibition, Marianne Brouwer, and the UCCA chief, Xue Mei. He published the transcripts of the interviews on Instagram. In one of the interviews, the CEO of the UCCA, Xue Mei, admitted that, due to the sensitive time of the exhibition, Ai’s name was taken out of the press releases on the day of the opening and it was supposed to be restored afterwards. This was to avoid problems with the Chinese authorities, who threatened to arrest her.