Chinese dissident artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who lives in Portugal, will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Évora (UÉ) today.
In a statement issued at the end of September, the institution said that the ceremony to award Ai Weiwei an honorary degree would take place from 11:00 in the Hall of Acts of the Espírito Santo College, the main building of the UÉ.
According to the academy, the laudatory speech will be given by Paul Dujardin, art historian and director general of the Bozar (also known as the Palace of Fine Arts) in Brussels, Belgium, between 2002 and 2021, who is patron of the distinction.
Ai Weiwei is “one of the most prominent cultural figures of his generation and a symbol of freedom of expression both in China and internationally”, said the UÉ, recalling that the Chinese artist chose Montemor-o-Novo, in the Évora district, to live.
The institution revealed that the proposal states that, “in addition to being an artist, [Ai Weiwei] is a thinker and activist” and that “his artistic practice addresses pressing issues such as sustainability, human rights and the global phenomenon of migration”.
Born in Beijing, China, in 1957, Ai Weiwei, he pointed out, “leads a diverse and prolific practice that encompasses sculptural installation, cinema, photography, ceramics, painting, writing and social media”.
“A conceptual artist who fuses traditional craftsmanship and his Chinese heritage, Ai Weiwei moves freely between a variety of formal languages to reflect on the contemporary geopolitical and sociopolitical condition,” he said.
For the UÉ, “Ai Weiwei’s work and life regularly interact and inform each other, often extending to his activism and defense of international human rights.”
Ai Weiwei has exhibited in institutions and biennials around the world and his memoir “1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows” was published in 2021, he added.