PEN America to Stage Literary Protest for Free Expression
On April 10, acclaimed writers Sergio De La Pava, Jennifer Egan, Chang-Rae Lee, and Victoria Redel will join PEN American Center on the plaza of Brooklyn Public Library to protest Beijing’s efforts to silence Ai Weiwei and other Chinese writers and artists.
The event — endorsed by Ai supporters including Marina Abramović, Chuck Close, Agnes Gund, Anish Kapoor, Shirin Neshat, Susan Sarandon, and Julian Schnabel — will begin with short readings of prose, poetry, and testimonials from Chinese writers including Ai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, and Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, who PEN announced Monday would receive the 2014 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, much to the chagrin of the Chinese government. Attendees will then proceed, handcuffed, to the Brooklyn Museum to watch a never-before-seen video message from Ai Weiwei, projected onto the museum exterior by the Illuminator Truck made famous during the Occupy Wall Street protests. In a final nod to Ai’s art installations, demonstrators will break free of the handcuffs and deposit them at the museum in the name of freedom of expression for all Chinese artists and writers.