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So, Ai Weiwei, the art maverick, got his art show scrapped because of a tweet. Yep, he took a jab at the Israel-Gaza conflict on social media and BAM! The Lisson Gallery in London shut the whole exhibition down. Ai Weiwei tried to explain his side of the story in a statement to Hyperallergic, putting the gallery’s version of events in the hot seat and calling out the art world for muzzling voices.

His Take on the Cancelled Show

Ai Weiwei set the record straight, saying the gallery just dropped a bomb on him a few days before his exhibition was set to open. He squashed Lisson Gallery’s claim that they had a lengthy chat with him before pulling the plug. Lisson Gallery hasn’t given their two cents on Ai’s latest statement yet, according to Hyperallergic.

Ai Weiwei: Exhibitions in Limbo

It’s not just London. The domino effect hit Ai’s exhibitions in New York, Paris, and Berlin too. But hold up—Berlin’s neugerriemschneider gallery is still rolling with Ai’s show, despite the drama.

The Tweet That Started It All

So, what did the tweet say? Ai’s tweet, which he later erased, talked about how guilt over the persecution of Jewish people sometimes gets shifted over to the Arab world. He brought up the hefty influence of the Jewish community in the US, linking it to the US giving Israel a whopping $3 billion annually. Lisson Gallery wasn’t having it.

Gallery’s Response

Lisson Gallery snapped back, saying there’s no room for discussions that could be seen as anti-Semitic or Islamophobic, especially when the focus should be on ending the suffering in Israel and Palestine. They respect Ai Weiwei’s support for free speech and oppressed people but decided to call off the show.

Ai’s Take: A Different Tune

Ai Weiwei, speaking to Hyperallergic, had a different vibe. He hinted that galleries often cancel exhibitions without giving clear reasons, assuming everyone will just get it without explaining. He pointed out this recent cancellation trend globally, hinting at a more serious issue in the art world.

The Bigger Picture: Past and Present

Growing up in a labor camp with his poet dad, Ai Weiwei’s always been vocal against China’s government. He’s faced prison time, exile, and constant harassment for speaking his mind. Back in 2011, an exhibition of his got nixed in Beijing right before he was detained.

The Shock Factor

For Ai Weiwei, this cancellation wasn’t a total surprise. He’s seen this kind of censorship before, especially in his home country under the Communist regime. But he’s taken aback by the way supposedly free societies use subtle tactics to muzzle artistic expression.

In Conclusion

Ai Weiwei’s latest debacle isn’t just about his exhibition. It’s about a bigger issue—the suppression of voices in the art world. He’s been through the wringer with censorship, but this time, it’s a different battleground—one that’s seemingly open but is quietly clamping down on artistic freedom.