BEIJING — He is no musician, but dissident artist Ai Weiwei is using music to convey his criticism and mockery of China's authoritarian state.
On the second anniversary of his 81-day secret detention, Ai released his first music album "The Divine Comedy," which includes the previously released single, "Dumbass."
The song is meant to reconstruct his detention, which was part of an overall crackdown on dissent in 2011. Ai's subsequent conviction for tax evasion has been seen by his supporters as punishment for his activism.
The full album released Saturday has five other songs documenting Ai's experiences with police and sharing his reflection on China's current conditions.
Musician Zuoxiao Zuzhou, a friend of Ai, wrote the music, with influences from pop, rock, punk and heavy metal. Ai's vocals appear to spoken more than sang, and the lyrics include obscenities to express his anger at what he sees as a repressive police state.
"I had been thinking about how to recover from the trauma. And I came up with the idea of using music to convey a sentiment that is tremendously secret, and private, to the public," Ai said last month when "Dumbass" was released.
A sculptor, designer and documentary-maker, Ai has irked Beijing by using his art and online profile to draw attention to injustices in China and the need for greater transparency and rule of law.
After his release in June 2011, Ai's design firm was slapped with a $2.4 million tax bill, which he fought unsuccessfully in the Chinese courts.