​ai weiwei unveils controversial lifejacket installation in austria

The Chinese artist continues to use to his work to draw attention to the refugee crisis.

by Felix Petty
15 July 2016, 4:19pm

Just months after wrapping a Berlin concert in lifejackets he'd collected from the Greek island of Lesbos, where he has set up a studio recently, Ai Weiwei has unveiled his second iteration of the installation in the Austrian Belvedere Palace. Titled F. Lotus, the piece also features lifejackets he's collected from the island arranged into the letter "f." Floating in the palace's lake, the lifejackets resemble lotus flowers.

It's the latest in a series of works the artist has made that have aimed to draw attention to the plight of refugees trying to make their way to Europe. Some of these works have drawn criticism; specifically, an image in which Weiwei posed as drowned toddler Alan Kurdi and forced a room of people at a Cinema For Peace event in Berlin to take selfies of themselves in survival blankets.

More hearteningly, though, he closed an exhibition of his work in Denmark as a protest at the country's treatment of asylum seekers. Currently, he's working on a documentary about the refugee crisis, shooting hundreds of hours of footage in Greek and Macedonian refugee camps.


Text Felix Petty

refugee crisis
Ai Weiwei
belvedere palace
f lotus