Watch Ai Weiwei blow up a bugging device

Someone installed a few additions to the artist's home while he was away. Here's what he did to them

You might have thought Ai Weiwei’s surveillance problems had come to an end. After all, the state gave the artist and dissident's passport back to him in July. However, upon returning from his extended trip to Germany, the Chinese artist and dissident found a few surprises waiting for him.



A video posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on


 According to the artist’s Instagram account, unnamed clandestine technicians had installed listening devices in his home studio while Ai was away, presumably to extend the already wide-reaching surveillance operation – the artist says at least 15 police CCTV cameras are already stationed within 100 metres of his home.

Weiwei has certainly given them something to listen to. In an Instagram post entitled ‘You hear me?’, the artist sets off a string of firecrackers in a bucket placed beside the exposed device. We're having trouble pitying the (presumably deafened) flunky listening on the other end, but it's nice to see that, in this small act of rebellion, as in his better-known works, Weiwei uses recognizably Chinese materials. Cai Guo-Qiang himself couldn't have done it better.

For more on this important contemporary artist buy our Ai Weiwei monograph here and for more on the art of political protest get a copy of Visual Impact. And if you're in London check out Ai's show at the Royal Academy.