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Ai Weiwei: imprisoned but not silenced

The outspoken artist and activist, whose 'Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads' is at LACMA, discusses his art and life after prison.

August 20, 2011|By David Ng, Los Angeles Times

Ai lives with his family, including his wife and young son. He said life is returning to a semblance of normality. On Friday, the artist was somewhat preoccupied with a missing cat, one of many that he keeps on his compound. "This cat always wants to escape. He's a very smart cat," he said. "I don't know if I should congratulate him or keep worrying."

In art circles, Ai is known for his impish sense of humor. One of his best-known photographic series features a middle finger raised at various national monuments around the world.

Ai said his sense of humor has helped him endure the last few months: "Humor is important. It helps you deal with immense pressure and uncertainty. It brings you back to the ordinary."

The artist concluded the conversation with a few words to American viewers who may be experiencing his work for the first time.

"I think they have to see it as something that will be removed after a period of time. It won't be permanent. It will be there and then it won't be there," he said. "And enjoy the weather. Be healthy and happy."

david.ng@latimes.com

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