It is no secret that artist and activist Ai WeiWei feels strongly about the current refugee crisis in Greece, with it being the subject of his most recent works.

Early this year, WeiWei took to Berlin to stage one of his controversial art pieces. The location of choice this time being the Berlin Concert House, the columns of which were covered with the discarded life jackets of refugees heading for the Greek coast in the hopes of a new life. Many of these refugees didn’t make it, and those who did often faced deportation back to the terror from which they were escaping.
A total of 14,000 life jackets were tied around the columns in what was an overnight operation undertaken by Ai’s team.

Ai repeatedly visited the Greek island of Lesbos in 2015, where he documented the perilous journey immigrants were undertaking on his Instagram account. This was the beginning of his social media campaign to provide immigrants with a safe journey and protection from the havoc that has been wreaked on their country.

His most recent effort to raise awareness comes in the form of a major exhibition of the dissident artist’s work, which will take place in the Museum of Cycladic Art (MCA) in Athens  from the 20th of May to the 30th of October, 2016. This will be Ai’s first exhibition in Greece, and will introduce audiences to his practice through many of his significant works.
Ai WeiWei is also set to unveil new works inspired by the permanent archaeological collection within the MCA.

Ai WeiWei is best known for his sculptures and large-scale installations, which conceptually marry traditional Chinese crafts and modes of thought with contemporary political messages. In his sculptural works, he often uses reclaimed materials such as ancient pottery, wood from destroyed temples, marble, and jade, uniting past and present- the old China and the new.

As well as engaging in many long-term research projects such as his ‘Citizens’ Investigation’ into the Sichuan Earthquake victims in 2008, Ai also served as artistic consultant on the design of the National “Bird’s Nest” Stadium for Beijing’s 2008 Olympics, and has had major exhibitions and pavilions all around the world.

10% of all exhibition takings, merchandise sales, and sponsorship funds will go directly to a number of hand selected NGOs working throughout Greece to help the refugee crisis.

You can follow Ai WeiWei’s progress on both Twitter and Instagram.


visual culture student at ncad, aspiring curator and writer.