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Ai Weiwei Pulls Works Out of Denmark in Order to Protest the Migrant Bill

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January 27, 2016
Pavle Ivanovic hides behind the pen name of Bob Lansroth as he tries to explore the boundless diversity of artists and the various ways in which they strive to escape the quotidian life. It is through the creative force within us that we must attempt to connect with one another and share our ideas with the world.

The famous dissident, Ai Weiwei, once more shows his strong convictions and dedicated struggle for human rights. In his latest display of fight against the governments and the unfair system, the Chinese artist decided to withdraw his exhibitions from ARoS Aarhus Art Museum and the Copenhagen gallery Faurschou Foundation. The reason for his boycott is the Danish government’s controversial bill which allows authorities to seize valuables from refugees. This is not the first time Ai Weiwei engaged in controversy regarding Denmark, not too long ago the audacious artist was denied of his request from the Danish toymaker Lego for a bulk order of the plastic toys, and the company based its reaction on political grounds. The outcome of the whole story resulted with the toy giant changing its policy and engaged people from all around the world, so will this decision by the artist/activist also make a significant change?

Ai Weiwei - Ruptures (Installation View)
Ai Weiwei – Ruptures (Installation View)

Some of the Artist’s most Significant Works Pulled from Exhibit

The exhibition at Faurschou Foundation featured some of the major works of Ai Weiwei’s art which deals with Chinese history and contemporary society, including physical artworks, curatorial projects, film, design, social activities, architecture and much more. Famous artworks like Sunflower Seeds were to be displayed at the show as a smaller version of the major site-specific installation at Tate Modern in the Turbine Hall. Another significant work from the artist’s oeuvre on display was the large installation Straight (2008-12). 73 tons of steel reinforcement , which Weiwei found in the wreckages after the earthquake in Sichuan, were meticulously hammered and straightened again by Ai’s assistants. Aside from the two major pieces, the exhibition was to show several of the artist’s sculptures made of wood from some of the Buddhist temples that were tore down during the Cultural Revolution. Another part of the show included photos from the period 1983-1993 taken by Weiwei while he was living in New York.

Ai Weiwei Reacts against the Controversial Bill in Denmark

The new bill in Denmark, among other things, allows authorities to confiscate valuables and cash from migrants in order to cover the cost of their care. The law will effectively delay family reunification for some refugees for at least three years. The controversial law stirred a lot of reactions from the public and Ai Weiwei decided to make a clear statement against it. The artist wrote a very polite letter in which he explained how shocked he felt when the Danish government decided to seize refugees’ private property. As a result, Ai felt that he must withdraw from the exhibition entitled A New Dynasty – Created In China to express his protest. Later on, the Chinese artist made another post announcing that he would close his exhibition Ruptures at the Faurschou Foundation, also adding that the gallery’s owner supported the decision.

Ai Weiwei - Ruptures at Faurschou Foundation Foto by Ellis Achong Karker
Ai Weiwei – Ruptures at Faurschou Foundation Foto by Ellis Achong Karker

Lighting the Spark for a Global Fire

According to Weiwei’s posts on Instagram, Jens Faurschou backs the artist’s decision and regrets that the Danish parliament chose to be in the forefront of symbolic and inhuman politics of today’s biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe and the Middle East. Of course, this is not the first time Ai Weiwei receives support and backup in his actions, actually, regarding the previously mentioned Lego controversy, the whole charade ended up in favor of the artist, and perhaps backfired against the toy company. Ultimately, after a major firestorm of criticism and reactions from all around the world, Lego changed its policy. So, who knows, perhaps it is people like Ai Weiwei who actually CAN make a difference and influence the system, or at least light the spark for the fire which should spread throughout the world and unite people in a good cause against unfairness, discrimination and injustice.

All images used for illustrative purposes only