BLACK IN COLOR AND MASSIVE IN SIZE, AI WEIWEI’S LATEST INSTALLATION OBJECT BEARS THE SHAPE OF AN INFLATABLE BOAT CARRYING OVERSIZED FACELESS REFUGEE FIGURES.
Ai WeiWei furthers his engagement in the global refugee crisis, which is essentially the ongoing human rights conflicts unfolding in different countries due to government policies regarding the mistreatment of Middle Eastern immigrants. After putting 14,000 life vests on the columns of the Konzerthaus building in Berlin, Ai managed to finish another installation work—black in color and massive in size, the object bears the shape of an inflatable boat carrying oversized faceless refugee figures. The work was exhibited at the National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic, one of the countries refusing to take in refugees. Named ‘Law of the Journey,’ the boat’s 70-meter-long structure was hung from the ceiling with its gigantic mass floating above the viewers. The installation brings an interesting impact to the overall exhibition space where the humongous inflatable mass filled with 300 people implies a neglected elephant in the room. The exhibition will run until the 7th of January of next year and also features Ai’s old works such as Snake Ceiling created as a memorial to over 5,000 students who died during the 2008 Shichuan Earthquake. The main reason behind the appalling number of deaths was corruption that affected the construction of the school buildings, resulting in unstandardized and insecure structures. Ai also brings Laundromat, a work created after his study of and many visits to the refugee camps in Greece and his journey to Indomeni, a refugee center whose unforeseen shut down led to the sudden eviction of immigrants. Ai was there to collect the belongings that were left behind before he washed and organized them in a beautifully arranged display.
TEXT: TUNYAPORN HONGTONG