In 2003, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei conjoined forty-two Forever brand bicycles into a circular sculpture. Manufactured in Shanghai since 1940, the Forever bicycle was an essential mode of transportation that has become an icon of the postrevolutionary era. Made of heavy steel, these utilitarian bicycles were meant to last forever.
The same cannot be said for Ai Weiwei’s studio in Shanghai, which was demolished Tuesday by Chinese authorities apparently as retribution for his outspoken criticism of government corruption and human rights abuses. He has come to see his conflict with the government as performance art. In November Ai held a farewell party serving a feast of river crab.