Chinese artist Ai Weiwei takes up guest professorship at a Berlin university

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei takes up a guest professorship at the Berlin University of the Arts.

BERLIN, GERMANY (OCTOBER 26, 2015) (REUTERS) – Chinese dissident artist and free-speech advocate Ai Weiwei spoke in Berlin on Monday (October 26) about his thoughts on teaching as he prepares to take up a post at a university in the German capital.

Ai was reunited with his son and partner in Berlin after Chinese authorities unexpectedly returned his passport in July. They had confiscated it four years ago after secretly detaining him for 81 days.

Ai received a visa to stay in Germany for three years and will take up a teaching post at a Berlin University of the Arts from November 1.

The artist said his teaching would not focus on the issues of censorship and activism, even though they are so key to his own work.

“I will not… put those censor concerns, those political concerns or activist or human rights concerns into my teaching because I am teaching at art school and of course those (concerns) are in me but I will not let my students also… you know, I will not put pressure on them, these kind of issues. I think everybody has the right to decide their own principles,” he said.

He added that being a good teacher was not about being a famous personality and that he would encourage his students to develop their own creative practice.

“I am not encouraging any students to be like me – I think the best teacher would not have students like him,” Ai said.

“Education is about a moment or activity which creates something different, so first thing to be different is different from their own teachers,” he added.

Ai has praised Berlin as a creative sanctuary that reminds him of New York in the 1980s and 1990s when he lived there.

He told Reuters in an interview in August that China had reached a critical point where the absence of democratic freedoms is a growing threat to economic stability.