"Who is afraid of Aiweiwei?" stencil graffiti spread in Hong Kong Favorite 

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Apr 3 2011

Location: 

Hong Kong

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.

The bearded face of the detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is spray-painted on a nondescript gray wall overlooking the steep lanes of Hong Kong's nightlife capital, Lan Kwai Fong.

Given his real-life circumstances — summarily disappeared at the hands of the Chinese authorities with no charges yet laid — the furrowed forehead and hooded, tired eyes of the image now seem a representation of suffering. Underneath his face is one simple question, "Who's afraid of Ai Weiwei?"

This graffiti, appearing all over Hong Kong, has become a political statement, more than a month after the world-famous artist was detained by the authorities at Beijing airport. The campaign could yet lead to a jail term for the young graffiti artist responsible. And that fact has led to fears about the erosion of Hong Kong's distinct freedoms, which are a legacy of its colonial past under the British.

Despite causing consternation for the authorities, many Hong Kong residents like both the graffiti's aesthetic and its political message."It's cool," says passerby Peter Chan. "The graphic is cool, and the presentation of protest against China is cool."

Eventually, Hong Kong police has arrested two activists for spraying graffiti images of detained outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, in an action condemned by a pro-democracy group Monday as "selective persecution".The two members of Hong Kong's pro-democracy party, the League of Social Democrats (LSD), were detained on criminal damage offences Sunday after they spray-painted graffiti depicting the artist at a small rally, according to party officials and the police.

"This is wrong. Obviously this is a selective persecution," Avery Ng, the party's vice-president told AFP, saying the pair were among two dozen party supporters who were at a gathering to show support for the Chinese artist.

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