Prospect Heights

PEN American Center to premiere never-before-seen video message from artist Ai Weiwei in Brooklyn

Writers Stage Literary Protest for Free Expression In Solidarity with Chinese Artists and Writers

April 2, 2014 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Acclaimed writers Sergio De La Pava, Jennifer EganChang-Rae Lee and Victoria Redel will join PEN American Center on the plaza of Brooklyn Public Library on April 10 to protest Beijing’s efforts to silence Ai Weiwei and other Chinese writers and artists.

The event—endorsed by Ai supporters including Susan Sarandon, Marina Abramović, Chuck Close, Anish Kapoor, Shirin Neshat,Julian Schnabel and Agnes Gund—will begin at 7 p.m. with short readings of prose, poetry and testimonials of Chinese writers including Ai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, who PEN announced Monday would receive the 2014 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, much to the chagrin of the Chinese government. Attendees will then proceed, handcuffed, to the Brooklyn Museum (0.3 miles) to watch a never-before-seen video message from Ai Weiwei, projected onto the museum exterior by the Illuminator Truck made famous during the Occupy Wall Street protests. In a final nod to Ai’s art installations, demonstrators will break free of the handcuffs and deposit them at the museum in the name of freedom of expression for all Chinese artists and writers.

Ai Weiwei is barred from attending an upcoming retrospective of his work at the Brooklyn Museum, which opens on April 18, because his passport has been confiscated and held by the Chinese government since he was arbitrarily detained for 81 days in 2011. Ai joins a growing list of persecuted artists in China, including former Independent Chinese PEN Center President Liu Xiaobo, a writer and political activist sentenced to 11 years in prison for seven sentences deemed subversive by the government. PEN’s 2009 rally for Liu on the steps of the New York Public Library ignited the campaign for his 2010 Nobel Peace Prize nomination and award.

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The April 10 event will begin at 7 p.m. at the Plaza at Brooklyn Public Library (10 Grand Army Plaza) in Prospect Heights.

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