Ai Weiwei released on bail.

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

BEIJING: After 81 days in detention, China’s best-known artist, Ai Weiwei, has returned home a considerably thinner and noticeably quieter man. ”I’m fine. I’m out,” the 54-year-old artist said by telephone shortly after his release on bail. ”I’m back with my family. I’m very happy.” The state news agency, Xinhua, said police had released him on Tuesday ”because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes” and a chronic illness. Speaking from his home in north Beijing, the usually outspoken artist said he could not comment any further, adding: ”I’m on bail. Please understand.” Ai’s sister, Gao Ge, said: ”I’m very, very happy … we thank everyone, including our media friends, for all their help and support so far.” His mother, Gao Ying, told America’s National Public Radio that the family ”won’t sleep tonight”. The artist’s disappearance on April 3 sparked international condemnation, with political leaders calling for his release and sustained protests throughout the art world. He vanished after he was stopped by officials at Beijing Airport, where he was due to board a flight to Hong Kong.Please read the rest of the article here.

not much of an update, but something

The following is via Designboom

our friends at hong kong-based architectural firm map office are sending out a call to bring attention to the disappearance of contemporary chinese artist ai weiwei. last sunday, april 3rd, 2011, ai weiwei and his friend wan tao were stopped and detained by police authorities, from boarding a flight from beijing airport. they were then escorted away

since then, there has been no word as to their whereabouts until now. a statement was released this afternoon from a state-run global times newspaper breaking china’s media silence on the situation, stating that ai weiwei has no respect for the laws of his country, and that he is on the verge of pushing the limits of legal tolerance. for this, ai weiwei’s behaviour will be evaluated and he will pay a price for his actions.

the artist is best known for his political activism revolving around the earthquake that hit china’s sichuan province in 2008. since then he has faced physical abuse from authorities, his new studio was recently demolished and his name and work has been censored throughout china among other events and incidents.

you may read more about the detainment of ai weiwei by jerome cohen here.

ai weiwei’s work ‘sunflower seeds‘ is currently on show at the tate modern in london.
in may his ‘cirlce of animals / zodiac heads‘ world tour will begin in the grand army play near central park in new york.

*** Update thanks to Lori Buff:
A petition has been started to ask congress to request Weiwei’s release. To see and sign the petion, click here:

It’ll just take a minute!

Once you’re done, please ask your friends to sign the petition as well. Grassroots movements succeed because people like you are willing to spread the word!