Alexandre Meneghini—File Photo/Reuters

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara’s art, his unignorable fight for freedom of expression and his uncompromising stance against autocracy reveal the power of resistance. Otero Alcántara is a symbol of and a leader within Cuba’s San Isidro movement, an influential group of artists and intellectuals who demanded greater freedoms as antigovernment protests spread across the country this summer. Although he has since been imprisoned, his life, behavior and expression as a whole are so powerful that they can resist the aesthetic and ethical degeneration of authoritarianism. Art needs courage, which he has repeatedly demonstrated. Its aesthetics need a solid philosophical background and a strong sense of ethics—this, too, he has shown. It is through such struggles for free expression that art transcends the condition of banality and mediocracy.

Ai is an artist and activist

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