In a telephone interview the Chinese artist and designer Ai Wei Wei has described the presence of security officers outside his house in Beijing and said he had been told he was under house arrest.
Ai said he'd been informed by the security officers that the detention had been imposed because of a party he was about to hold at his new studio in Shanghai at which he said around 1,000 people from over China were due to attend. "So they" he said, referring to the authorities, "feel completely out of control and they don't know what is going to happen. That make(s) them extremely nervous."
Ai's studio in Shanghai, the venue of the party, has reportedly been served with a demolition order, but the artist said this move was completely at odds with the earlier approach of the authorities. "They," he said, "were not only taking care of the permit, they were using me as a promotion in the interviews the mayor gave to talk to other people about the future of this area."
As a designer Ai is noted for his work on the Beijing Olympic Bird's Nest stadium and he has works of art on display abroad, notably an installation piece called 'Sunflower Seeds' currently exhibiting at the Tate Modern gallery in London.