Ai Weiei is a Chinese artist and political activist who has taken a keen interest in the current refugee crisis, frequently visiting Lesbos, which is at the heart of the culmination, to witness the struggles that these people face. Weiei’s latest work is a bold installation at the Berlin Film Festival of 14,000 life jackets strapped to the Konzerthaus; each of the jacket were worn by the refugees as they travelled oversea from Turkey. His work speaks for itself, and so I will be keeping this article short in order for you to discover the artist’s message from his own work, as to not place my own interpretations or political stances upon them.
The Berlin installation is both bold and shocking, as it allows the viewer to quantify the vast scale of this migration of, frankly, desperate people who have been displaced for horrific reasons. Although 14,000 is a tiny proportion of the greater 9 million which have fled Syria, Weiei has offered us a glimpse into the plight of these people. In 2015, the Mediterranean Sea claimed 400 lives as many fled from Turkey to Lesbos, and this piece is a plea for there to be no more deaths as people seek asylum in Europe. This is more prominent than ever, as the migration of people is at ten times the rate in 2016 as it was the previous year.
With many government officials deciding the fate of these asylum seekers, Weiei has announced the closing of his exhibition ‘Ruptures’, in Copenhagen, as he protests against the Danish government’s policy to deter the refugees from entering Denmark. He has posted updates on his experience with this crisis on social media such as his instagram, his work is extremely eye opening, thought provoking and is well worth the look.