A renowned Chinese artist and activist in Berlin, Ai Weiwei, 58, has been crafting his work based on the plight of refugees who have risked and lost their lives trying to reach Europe for amnesty.
However, his latest art installation located in Berlin, employs 14,000 life jackets to cover the columns of the famous Konzerthaus concert hall venue.
Every single life jacket was brought to Germany from the Greek island of Lesbos. According to Al Jazeera, the life jackets were discarded by refugees on beaches after crossing from Turkey.
No stranger to highlighting social issues, Weiwei has repeatedly visited Lesbos — the main entry point for many refugees — since the beginning of the refugee crisis, naturally.
HighSnobiety reports that this past December, the artist shared pictures and videos from the Greek island on his Instagram. Weiwei actually set up an art studio on the Greek island of Lesbos and was immersed in with them during their journey.
He brought back the life jackets with him to Berlin, Germany. In Berlin, he hopes to make a powerful statement about the 3,700 refugees who lost their lives trying to make their way to Europe last year with his life-jacket show.
In Berlin, Weiwei reminds everyone how refugees are living right now — during their journey to escape war and hardship — as we celebrate Valentine’s Day with our sweethearts.
And fans of the Berlin life-jacket display express their gratitude for Ai’s provocative work.
His life jacket display on the Berlin concert hall isn’t the only bold statement he made in Europe as of late. Last month, Ai Weiwei closed his own exhibition, titled “Ruptures,” in Copenhagen in protest against anti-immigration laws proposed by Denmark’s parliament.
The Inquisitr reported that Denmark is trying to approve laws to deter asylum seekers from entering — a foreshadowing of legislation to come forth in Berlin. Specifically, Denmark was pushing to seize valuables worth more than $1,500 from migrants.
Officials claimed that such laws will help to cover their food costs and housing as they analyze their cases one-by-one in Copenhagen.
But because of imposed laws as such, Al Jazeera added that more than 400 people have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea while politicians delegate in cities like Berlin. This is what inspired Weiwei’s life jacket installation in Berlin.
And refugee crossings in the first six weeks of 2016 alone are totaling up to be 10 times the rate of the same period last year.
VOA News reports that Germany is following in Denmark’s footsteps — perhaps being the reason for the life jacket protest in Berlin.
After receiving higher volumes of migrants on their shores, Germany seeks to tighten its immigration laws in response as the crisis worsens. Several Balkan states near Berlin have been designated as “safe” countries to deport failed asylum seekers.
VOA visited Berlin to witness the growing tensions on the issue first hand.
When asked of the significance and purpose his Berlin life-jacket display — and his art in general — Weiwei simply stated the following.
What do you think of Ai’s art? Do you think politicians will take notice of his life-jacket installation in Berlin?
[Photo by AP Photo/Markus Schreiber]