Baltimore Insider

Ai Weiwei exhibit, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Junot Díaz to appear at Hopkins

An exhibit* by the world-renowned Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei will be installed at Johns Hopkins University this spring as part of the school's annual foreign affairs symposium.

The opening date hasn't yet been set. But, according to a university news release, the dissident artist is designing an artwork for the university, described only as "an immersive exhibit for display in the Glass Pavilion."


Ai is the artist who sharply criticized the Chinese government's record on democracy and human rights, and who was arrested on tax evasion charges in April, 2011 while boarding a plane to Hong Kong. He was held for 81 days in a tiny room and interrogated 50 times before he was released. He spent the next four years under modified house arrest and was unable to leave Beijing until his passport was returned in 2015.

In China, he occupies a kind of Andy Warhol-like status. He has 342,000 followers on Twitter (though the social media site is blocked on mainland China) and 284,000 followers on Instagram.


Speakers at the symposium include the Columbia resident and MacArthur Foundation Fellowship winner Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (Feb. 8); the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Diaz, (Feb. 22); Aneesh Chopra, the United States' first chief technology officer (March 9); representatives of the Veterans Writing Project (April 5); and Vice Media founder Suroosh Alvi (April 12).

One event in the series already has been held -- a presentation by Nadya Tolokonnikova, co-founder of the anti-Putin Russian punk rock artist collective Pussy Riot, took place earlier this week.

The public is invited to attend all the lectures, which are free and begin at 8 p.m. Adichie and Diaz will speak at Shriver Hall; locations for the remaining presentations have not yet been determined.

Seats can be reserved in advance about a week before each reading.

* This article has been updated. An earlier version incorrectly stated that Ai Weiwei would be a speaker in the foreign affairs symposium.