‘What doesn’t bother Disney or Bob Dylan is just fine with Martin Roth’


Ai Wei Wei

From Sign and Sight:

Imperium confronts imperium. The American entertainment company Walt Disney is building a theme park in Shanghai. Several thousand apartments and stores will be cleared away for this purpose. The park is planned to open in five years. Projections estimate seven million visitors a year.

Legend confronts reality. On Wednesday Bob Dylan played in Beijing, his first concert in China. Tickets were obscenely expensive, and the man in the white cowboy hat did not say a single word. He never does. Dylan a protest singer? This was a misconception even in the 1960s. He was never willing to commit himself. His Bobness has even sung for the Pope and at West Point, the sacred bastion of the US military.

Politics? No comment. But now that he will soon be turning seventy – and the world is still a difficult, unjust, torn apart place – it would have been just too perfect if he had played up a part of one song or the other, which millions of fans from throughout the world and even those in China could have read something into. But an agreement had been made with the Chinese authorities about the program, and apparently he stuck to it. Don’t think twice, it’s alright!?

Where is Ai Weiwei? He was taken away a week ago at the Beijing airport. He is under investigation for economic crimes. That is an especially insidious accusation, because with it the state intends to make him into a common criminal, thereby avoiding the impression that the trail might be political. Enlightenment the Chinese way.

What doesn’t bother Disney or Bob Dylan is just fine with Martin Roth. Who is Martin Roth? He is a mandarin of the German art scene, the head of the Staatliche Kunstammlungen Dresden, one of the museum institutions having organised the exhibition “The Art of the Enlightenment” in Beijing.

Ai Wei Wei

“Who is afraid of Ai Weiwei?”, Rüdiger Schaper, Sign and Sight