Ai Weiwei's latest installation is a powerful tribute to refugees

Chinese artist and political dissident Ai Weiwei’s latest installation has just debuted and it makes a particularly powerful statement.

A black rubber boat with 258 figures onboard, the piece called Law Of The Journey is inspired by the plight of migrants – a topic Ai has been particularly vocal about in the past.

Ai Weiwei
(Petr David Josek/AP)

Ai has visited 20 refugee sites across the world, including the Greek island of Lesbos, an entry point for many migrants trying to reach western Europe from Turkey.

The vast 70-metre-long piece was made in a Chinese factory that produces dinghies used by actual refugees, Ai said.

Ai Weiwei
(Petr David Josek/AP)

“To refuse somebody so desperate is almost a crime,” Ai says. “It’s immoral, it’s short-sighted, and it is not going to benefit this nation. We cannot lose our fundamental beliefs in human rights and human dignity.”

Ai Weiwei
(Petr David Josek/AP)

The installation can be found in the National Gallery of Prague. According to the European Commission, the Czech Republic has so far accepted 12 migrants for relocation. Data from the International Organisation for Migration shows that over 1.2 million people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe since 2015.

People are finding it a particularly powerful statement.

Comments underneath Ai’s Instagram posts of the installation show how much of an impact his work has made.

They include “Deeply moving! The enormity and profound silence” from @moniqueloveringstudio and “An astounding and emotionally charged work, it’s beautiful too, which it has to be to represent the sad story. Thank you as always for what you do,” from @michaelbirtphoto.

This isn’t the first time Ai has used the refugee crisis in his work. Last year he wrapped 14,000 discarded life vests collected from the beaches of Lesbos around the columns of Berlin’s Konzerthaus.

 

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