Staged Portraits, second prize stories
Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei is active across a number of media, including sculpture, installation, architecture, photography and film. He is highly vocal in his criticism of the Chinese government’s record on democracy and human rights, and in his investigations of corruption and cover-up.
In 2011, Ai was detained by the authorities, accused of tax evasion. He spent time in jail and under house arrest, and he cannot travel without government permission.
In May, Ai was a recipient of the inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, awarded by the Human Rights Foundation.
for Smithsonian magazine
Technical information & keywords
Help us improve this article
This image is collected in
About the photographer
Stefen Chow’s clients include The Smithsonian, Time magazine, Geo, The Guardian, and various commercial companies. He won the grand prize at the Arles Photography Open Salon for the Poverty Line, a photo project on what it means to be poor done in conjunction with economist Lin Hui-Yi, and was awarded an artist’s residency during the Les Rencontres d’Arles. The project has been exhibited at the Three Shadows gallery in Beijing, China, and galleries in Singapore; Penang, Malaysia, and Cologne, Germany, and has been featured beyond photography-oriented press, including NPR, Foreign Policy, Xinhua and Singapore Business Times. The project was also presented at TED@ Shanghai, a global talent search by TED in 2012. In addition, Chow’s work has received awards from PDN, Billboard, International Photo Awards, and Photographie de la Paris. He is a judge for the Tokyo-based Nikon Photo Contest. At the age of 25, Chow climbed to the summit of Mount Everest, and is a member of the Explorers Club. Chow lives in Beijing, China, and Singapore.