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Ai Weiwei to guest-edit the New Statesman

Renowned artist becomes the eighth guest editor of the magazine.

On October 18, the New Statesman will publish an issue guest-edited by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. The theme of the issue will be China and its future. It will showcase original photography, writing and research. The issue will be published simultaneously in Chinese (in digital form) and English, and there will also be exclusive online content.

Ai Weiwei is an internationally renowned artist and a free speech advocate. He was detained by the government for 81 days last year on charges of tax evasion, is still prevented from leaving the country and is currently appealing a fine imposed by the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau for $1.85m.

On his reasons for undertaking the guest edit of the New Statesman, Ai Weiwei said: 

I am always seeking different ways of expression as an artist and as a citizen. This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss topics that I am concerned about and that I am familiar with. The contributors are all people that I admire and respect very much. I am thankful for this collaboration with the New Statesman.

Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman, said: 

I was honoured when Ai Weiwei agreed to guest edit the New Statesman. He is not only an innovative artist of global renown; he has become a figurehead for human rights and freedom of speech. His courage – in refusing to be quiet despite many attempts by the Chinese state to silence and intimidate him – is inspirational.

This special issue, on China, its complex present and its future challenges, is written by Chinese authors and activists and showcases work by Chinese photographers. For one week, it is the New Statesman, made in China.

Greg Hilty, Curatorial Director at the Lisson Gallery, where Ai exhibits his work in Britain, said: 

Ai Weiwei's work as an artist is inextricably tied to his work as a designer, architect and curator. His edition of the New Statesman demonstrates the power of art and ideas to grapple meaningfully with the key issues of our time.

The issue will be available to buy in shops on Thursday 18 October.