The celebrations of last Wednesday when controversial artist Ai Weiwei finally obtained his passport more than four years after he was denied leaving his native China have been soured. Although he flew from Beijing to Germany on Thursday to visit his six-year old son, his short-term Schengen visa only allows him to enter 26 European countries – barring him from Britain. British immigration officials have merely granted him a 20-day entry visa rather than a six-month business visa, stating that Ai Weiwei had a ‘criminal conviction’ that he had not declared, despite the artist only ever having been placed under house arrest.
It’s a decision that curtails any previous hopes that Weiwei might attend the opening of a monumental retrospective of his work at the Royal Academy in September. Tom Phillips relayed the backlash towards Britains ruling and the subsequent support of fans, human rights activists and lawyers, with lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan brandishing the situation as ‘ridiculous.’ One fan encapsulated the sentiment of many, declaring on his Instagram account: ‘Disappointing. Puts a blanket of sadness over my mood.’ It is now thought that the Home Office secretary, Theresa May will now review the case.