A hipster artist has just become the first American detained by Chinese authorities for something he did at the Beijing Olympics. (Is this seriously the first? We would be very happy to be wrong about everything about this.) Tennessee native James Powderly (no relation to Dash Snow) ("heh") was last seen leaving New York-where his graffiti-influenced experimental art collective had a Moma show earlier this year-in this Flickr photo. (More recognizable photo of him after the jump.) Powderly, who is known for using lasers to project his graffiti tag onto buildings, was apparently detained early this morning Beijing time while attempting to debut a work of protest art, news that comes (really!) via a Twitter message somehow received by Students For a Free Tibet. It is not Powderly's first brush with Red Chinese authorities:
Powderly's direct experience with censorship by Chinese authorities furthered his commitment to highlighting the Tibetan cause during the Beijing Games, in partnership with the efforts of Students for a Free Tibet. Powderly and other members of the Graffiti Research Lab were dis-invited from Synthetic Times, a new media art exhibition at Beijing's National Media Art Museum of China, due to their uncompromising stance on freedom of expression.
Anyway, we're pretty sure this doesn't indicate any sort of crackdown, considering the Beijing Olympics has thus far been the the largest ever gathering of professional free speechifyers, and also the fact that graffiti artists are not exactly big into following laws, but tips and leads are always welcome. Graffiti Research Lab Graffiti 2.0: Gone By Morning [Time] Spray Paint Is So 20th Century [NYT]