Ai was commissioned as the artistic consultant for design, collaborating with the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, for the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics, also known as the "Bird's Nest." Although ignored by the Chinese media, he had voiced his anti-Olympics views.
As a person, I was born to give out my opinions. By giving out my opinions, I realize who I am. As long as I can communicate, I'm not so lonely. If I cannot travel, or do art, or have company, if they take away all my belongings, it doesn't matter at all.
Auteur, publisher, photograph, sculptor and an action artist: Ai Weiwei.
Video: Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei later distanced himself from the project, saying, "I've already forgotten about it. I turn down all the demands to have photographs with it," saying it is part of a "pretend smile" of bad taste.
In August 2007, he also accused those choreographing the Olympic opening ceremony, including Steven Spielberg and Zhang Yimou, of failing to live up to their responsibility as artists. Ai said "It's disgusting. I don't like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgment." In February 2008, Spielberg withdrew from his role as advisor to the 2008 Summer Olympics.
When asked why he participated in the designing of the Bird's Nest in the first place, Ai replied "I did it because I love design."