Ai is to receive the Artistic Expression Award at PEN's LitFest Gala in Los Angeles, the literary and human rights organization announced Friday. The event takes place November 2 at the Beverly Wiltshire Hotel. PEN noted that the prize follows the recent razing of the artist's Beijing studio.
In a statement issued through PEN, Ai said free expression has long been feared by "authoritarian or dictatorial regimes" and that artists and human rights supporters needed to speak out. Earlier this month, Ai posted on Instagram that authorities had begun demolishing his studio and had not given advance warning. He posted videos of an excavator smashing the windows of his "Zuoyou" workspace.
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