Chinese artist Ai Weiwei gets Smithsonian showcase


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The Independent Culture

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who has drawn scrutiny for his political activism, is opening the first North American retrospective exhibition of his work in Washington.

Ai is barred from leaving China after being detained without explanation for three months last year. So he can't attend Sunday's opening at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum.

Curators say artworks in "Ai Weiwei: According to What?" capture his push for free expression and his questioning of authority.

One photograph shows him giving the middle finger to the White House.

The show includes new works, including 3,200 porcelain crabs called "He Xie." It's a play on the Chinese word for "harmony," which is used heavily in government propaganda.