Ai Weiwei was imprisoned in 2011 for several months but eventually was allowed to leave China in 2015 and made his home in Germany. I believe he has now left Germany but I'm not sure where he is living. In 2016, Ai Weiwei wrapped 14,000 discarded refugee life vests around the pillars of Berlin's Konzerthaus venue to highlight the scale of migrants taking to the seas every day. (edition.cnn.com)
(Credit: journal.Friedhelm Dentkeler)
Using the Company Forever Bicycles Ai Weiwei commemorated the controversial case of a young Beijing resident, Yang Jia, who was arrested on charges of stealing a bike in 2007 and gained public sympathy for speaking out against the police harassment he said he suffered. Mr. Yang later killed six Shanghai police officers and was executed in 2008, but to many Chinese he remained a symbol of the individual standing up against government injustice. (nytimes.com)
Returning to the refugee crisis, Ai Weiwei created The Law of the Journey in 2018 on Cockatoo Island for the 21st Biennale of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
(Credit:biennaleofsydney.art) Please follow this link for a more in-depth analysis of The Law of the Journey.
What does this all mean? To quote from the Tate: Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make this work, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China’s most prized exports. Sunflower Seeds invites us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today. (tate.org.uk)
The Hero Image today shows Ai Weiwei at the unveiling of Forever Bicycles, consists of 1,245 bicycle frames, outside the Gherkin building in London.