Internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s biggest solo show, featuring a reproduction of the white cell he was jailed in for 81 days by Chinese authorities, opens in Berlin – but where is the artist?

Ai Weiwei – Evidence, which sprawls through 18 rooms at the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum, is a deeply political exhibition of his conceptual art. It opens on Thursday, exactly three years after he was arrested and held in detention.

Notably absent was the artist himself. An outspoken critic of the Chinese government’s record on free speech and human rights, Ai was a no-show in Berlin as the Chinese government retained his passport after his release.