Ai Weiwei says Beijing studio wrecked without notice

Beijing (AFP) –


Ai Weiwei said Friday wrecking crews had started demolishing his main studio in Beijing without notice, three years after the artist and government critic left China.

Ai, who now lives in Berlin, posted videos on Instagram showing an excavator's boom breaking large windows as several men look on from inside the near empty brick and concrete building.

"Today, they started to demolish my studio 'zuo you' ('left and right')" without notice, Ai wrote on the image-sharing platform, which is blocked by China's online "Great Firewall".

"Farewell," he wrote in English.

The conceptual artist said the East German-style socialist factory building had been his main studio since 2006. The video showed wooden boxes and planks inside the building.

Ai was detained for 81 days in 2011 amid a crackdown on government critics. His passport was confiscated for four years and he moved to Berlin after the travel document was returned to him in 2015.

Ai helped to design the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Games, but the artist's criticism of the Chinese leadership has made him a thorn in the government's side.