Ai Weiwei is the most famous chinese artist alive, if not the most known alive chinese person period. And chinese authorities cannot quite make up their minds if he's a danger for them or a useful windown to the West as proof there's some freedom in China (well, the CIA did the same with Jackson Pollock*** in the sixties to proove there was total freedom in the West so why not...). This said, they did come to sort of a conclusion last year as they took him into secret custody for 81 days..... You see, Ai Weiwei is one of the stars in modern art and while his name rings good for China, even if he would say bad things about it, the Chinese authorities think that what happens in China stays in China, or so they hope. But AI Weiwei will never stop.
Son of a famous poet who suffered a great deal during the Anti-Rightist Movement, AI Weiwei is a man of many talents and a strong voice for reforms in China. His art is being shown in the biggest art galleries all over the world and there's something rather Warholian about him and his art as he, like our ol' pal Andy, sees himself as a brand. But there's more to Ai than an astute communication person, he's very vocal about problems touching the very heart of China's: his digging of the "Tofu-skin" schools affair is famous (he's been accusing some of corruption in building schools that went down like a deck of cards during an eathquake in 2008).
And how to stay uninterested or unamused when Ai Weiwei has an exhibition called "Fuck Off" running parallel to the Shangai Biennale, where he makes "studies of iconic buildings" by doing pictures of the WHite House or the Forbidden City, his middle finger gloriously dressed in the middle of the shot as " scale to judge the perspective".
A documentary called "Never Sorry" has recently win a prize in Sundance and will be released to the public mid 2012.
more on his works: http://www.aiweiwei.com/