The Chinese artist answers questions from Observer readers and art world luminaries on creativity and protest, Chinese politics – and why he never cooks the same dish twice
Ai Weiwei’s studio can be found behind unmarked, black metal doors in a grand square in the old east Berlin. You immediately descend two flights of very steep stone stairs before emerging, blinking for light, into a vast, brick-lined cavern that has the proportions of a church. The temperature drops a few degrees. The space was originally, back in the mid-19th century, the cooling warehouses for the Bavarian brewer Joseph Pfeffer. But, since Ai fled China five years ago, this has been his main place of work – and, given that the 62-year-old artist and activist is almost always working, more besides.
“When I’m here, it’s like my home,” says Ai, who wears a blue hoodie and comfortable shoes, his beard less unruly than it appears in photographs. “Like my home,” he clarifies. “I’ve never had a home. In China, my studio was often destroyed. So for me, it’s a shelter – a shelter not so different from refugees in the camps that gradually build up. I can leave, of course, but since 2015, I have stayed here, never had a holiday or weekends. I’m working all the time.” His face crinkles into a smile: “I love work.”
In China they say, you’re born as a nude person, you die as a nude person. You should understand both ends Continue reading...