ai weiwei covers berlin theatre in refugee lifejackets

The Chinese artist continues to use the refugee crisis for inspiration in his work.

by Felix Petty
15 February 2016, 2:00pm

Despite causing controversy earlier this month by posing as Alan Kurdi, the Syrian refugee boy whose dead body was photographed washed up on a Turkish beach, Ai Weiwei has again returned to the human tragedy of the refugee crisis in his art.

Overnight on Saturday, the Chinese artist and activist wrapped 14,000 life vests around the pillar's of Berlin's Konzerthaus. Ai got the vests from Lesbos, an island that's been on the frontlines of the refugee crisis, due its location in-between Turkey and Europe, and where Ai has set up a studio to build a memorial to those who've died en route from Africa and Middle East.

Ai Weiwei has been a vocal critic of Europe's response to the crisis, closing an exhibition of his work Denmark as a protest against the country's treatment of asylum seekers. He has however recently come under fire himself, with many accusing him of tasteless shock tactics for mimicking the death of Alan Kurdi. With many art journalists commenting that his actions had gone beyond solidarity and were becoming crass and insensitive.

refugee crisis
Ai Weiwei
life vests