LISBON – Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most famous artists, and many regard him as one of the world’s greatest living ones. Working with the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, he helped design the Bird’s Nest Stadium, the centerpiece of Beijing’s 2008 Summer Olympics. The stadium in northern Beijing, instantly recognizable for its weave of curving steel beams, will also host the opening ceremony for Beijing’s Winter Olympics on Feb. 4.
In the design phase, Ai hoped the stadium’s latticework form and the presence of the Olympics would symbolize China’s new openness. He was disappointed. He has repeatedly described the stadium and the 2008 Olympics as a “fake smile” that China presented to the world. Ai expects the Winter Games to offer more of the same.