Ai weiwei must leave the house of art

Ai weiwei must leave the house of art

Ai weiwei as a ticket collector: in a show of solidarity, the chinese artist stood up for the employees of the munich haus der kunst who are threatened with dismissal.

Museum management criticized the controversial and unannounced action and asked ai to leave the exhibition space. The day after, the artist defended himself and denied an ejection.

The 62-year-old had appeared on friday without the knowledge of the museum management in the house of art and had torn off, among other things, the entrance tickets of the visitors. The company’s managing director, bernhard spies, confronted ai and discussed with him the outsourcing of the workforce. Several media witnessed the speech and published videos and photos of the action.

Ai told the german press agency on saturday that the staff of the haus der kunst had previously invited him to support them in order to keep their jobs. He criticized the museum’s management for buying expensive artworks for exhibitions "while laying off people with low pay."

The haus der kunst had disapproved the invitation of the artist as well as the action. The house’s rights had been grossly violated, it said. However, the employees were not threatened with any consequences: "the management is sticking to its promise to make the restructuring process as socially acceptable as possible, while retaining as many jobs as possible and without any loss of income."

The house has had turbulent times, including massive money problems. Employees’ closeness to scientology and cases of sexual harassment also made headlines. The supervisory board reacted with notices and placed a commercial manager at the side of the then director okwui enwezor, who has since died. A team of five international art experts is said to have a search for a new artistic director.

Green member of parliament margarete bause called ai’s "expulsion" from the haus der kunst an "unbelievable embarrassment". "What a provincial pose," the politician wrote on twitter, blaming the bavarian state government. The house of art belongs to the free state. "The planned dismissals must be withdrawn," she demanded. Bause was for years head of the green parliamentary group in bavaria and is now a member of the human rights committee in the federal parliament.

The haus der kunst does not have its own collection, but brings the artworks into the house for exhibitions. Under the national socialists, the museum was built as the "house of german art" and was personally opened by adolf hitler in 1937. Until the end of the second world war, the annual "gross deutsche kunstausstellung" took place there, propagating the national socialist understanding of art. In recent years, the haus der kunst has intensified its efforts to reappraise its history, presenting mainly international, contemporary artists. About ten years ago the highlight was the exhibition of none other than: ai weiwei.

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