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China dissident artist Ai Weiwei to take on a new medium by releasing a hard rock album
File photo of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei showing his tax guarantee slips as he leaves the the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau, China, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011. Ai went to the local tax bureau to fill in paperwork for a $1.3 million guarantee, and told reporters he feels like he was paying a ransom.
BEIJING (AFP).- Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, whose oeuvre already spans genres from film to architecture, is taking on a new medium with plans for a hard rock album, he told AFP on Tuesday.

Ai's avant-garde works, which also include visual arts and sculpture, have been exhibited around the world, but he admitted his musical limitations.

He was not a long-standing hard rock fan and had no favourite bands, he said.

"My favourite band will be myself," he added. "I don't play instruments, I sing and I wrote the songs. It's about my condition and China's condition."

The music, composed by a friend, is in the final stage of mixing, while videos are also being produced. The album, provisionally titled "Divine Comedy", is due for release within two months, he added.

Ai has emerged as a fierce critic of the government in Beijing, often through his prolific use of the Internet and involvement in sensitive social campaigns.

He was detained for 81 days in 2011 during a roundup of activists at the time of the Arab Spring popular uprisings, and on his release he was accused of tax evasion and barred from leaving the country for one year.

He is known for tallying the number of schoolchildren killed in a 2008 earthquake, a taboo subject because many schools collapsed while other buildings did not, fuelling suspicion of corruption.

In January he released a 102-minute film about a villager whose fatal crushing by a truck sparked outrage from those who suspected he was killed for campaigning over land seizures, a widespread grievance in China.

Last year Ai produced a version of the widely imitated Gangnam Style music video in which he pulled out a pair of handcuffs, symbolising the authorities' efforts to silence him. The video was soon censored online.

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

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