In the piece, which was published on Saturday (29 January), Ai touched upon the likely origins of the disease that originated in Wuhan, but rapidly spread across the world.
Refuting the belief that the coronavirus originated in Wuhan’s wet markets, the artist toldThe Telegraph: “It’s obvious the disease is not from an animal. It’s not a natural disease, it’s something that’s leaked.”
Ai, who is a vocal critic of the Chinese government, said his experience working on a film about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) had given him insight into rigid “Chinese institutions” completely controlled by the ruling party.
Titled Eat, Drink and Be Merry, 2003 documentary is available to view on YouTube.
Its synopsis reads: “In 2003, the infectious disease SARS quickly spread across China, causing widespread panic. At the peak of the hysteria accompanying the mysterious epidemic, Ai Weiwei and his brother Ai Dan made a short film together, Ai Weiwei’s first. The film depicts the defiantly carefree attitude of their bohemian group of friends against the ominous backdrop of the SARS outbreak.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Ai discussed the forthcoming Beijing Olympics, which will be held in the Birds Nest stadium.
The artist, who co-created the stadium, called the Olympics a “business event”, adding: “It’s not really about human dignity or anything healthy.”
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