Ai Weiwei just got his passport back!

The artist just Instagrammed this picture - hurray!
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In the early hours of this morning (Wednesday July 22)  Ai Weiwei Instagrammed a photo of himself holding a Chinese passport with the words, "Today, I got my passport."

Chinese authorities revoked Ai's travel rights in April 2011, arresting him at Beijing Airport and detaining him for 81 days. He was subsequently accused by authorities of evading taxes and destroying accounting documents. Accusations of pornography were also made following the appearance of a work called One Tiger Eight Breasts featuring him naked in his studio. The man who took the photograph, Zhao Zhao, also came under investigation, along with his assistants leading artists around the world to tweet photos of themselves naked in support of Ai.

 

Ai Weiwei - One Tiger, Eight Breasts
Ai Weiwei - One Tiger, Eight Breasts

He was released on one year's probation in June 2011, but the government retained his passport. Recently Ai has been posting photos to Instagram of a bike with a front basket holding a bouquet of flowers to mark another day without freedom. He Instagrammed the most recent one with the words, "Today is 600th day!" just hours before the passport photo.

 

Ai Weiwei bike outside the Lisson Gallery in London
Ai Weiwei bike outside the Lisson Gallery in London

The artist is the son of the prominent Chinese poet Ai Qing, who fell from political favour in 1958. Weiwei’s family were sent to a dissident labour camp in the far north-west of China before  the boy was one, and were subsequently exiled to a remote city near the Chinese/Russian border.

Though he returned to the Chinese capital at the age of 16 in 1976, following Chairman Mao’s death, his childhood experiences informed his critical view of the political establishment.


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