The evolving story of the razing of Ai Weiwei’s Shanghai studio — presumably as punishment for his outspoken campaigns — was held without the artist. He was detained at his home in Beijing. Ai’s absence didn’t stop the party as Jessica Colwell describes on Shanghailist.com:
The mood of the place was mellow but festive. Old and young were gathered around a long banquet table in the inner courtyard. Collapsible cots had been set out to accommodate those visiting from outside Shanghai. Hundreds of plates, bowls, and cups were stacked and left idle, a sad tribute to the party it could have been.
The serving of the crab was the most exciting point of the evening, symbolizing for many their stubborn protest of Chinese censorship and support for political activism (River Crab in Chinese is a homonym for harmony – 河蟹 v. 和谐, and a popular euphemism for censorship in China.)
Even more exciting for a few was the handing out of ceramic kui huazi (sunflower seeds) from Ai Weiwei’s exhibit currently at London’s Tate Modern. These ‘Seeds of Freedom’ were handed out to anybody with a Twitter account, a demonstration in support of the Chinese Twitterati who provide a network of support for Chinese activists everywhere.