Ai Weiwei has decided to use Lego bricks for another art piece, this one for an art show in Australia. I posted two articles on Ai Weiwei a few months ago, the first one about his passport and the other about his art work displayed in England, both articles can be read in this double-article post! Anyway, he has hit another bump because he is notorious for his politically charged messages in his art, so he decided to buy Legos in bulk but they refused to sell it to him because of his notoriety. So now Mr. Ai is taking Lego donations for this piece to be displayed in Australia. People surmise it will resemble what he did in Alcatraz last year.
I copied and pasted this article from MSN, which got it from The Guardian. Visit the link at the end to see pictures of tweets people sent in Mr. Ai’s support. I kept the links to related articles for your perusal.
Artist Ai Weiwei vows to accept offers of Lego from around the world
The artist Ai Weiwei has vowed to find a way to accept the offers of donations of Lego bricks from all over the the world, and use them to make a work of art in Australia, after the Danish toy company refused to sell him a bulk order because of its political content, a move he denounced as “an act of censorship and discrimination”.
As offers to donate blocks began to pour in, Ai tweeted to the Guardian “yes, I will find a way to accept”.
Ai revealed on his Instagram page that he had been barred from putting in a bulk order for the bricks needed for the show Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei at the National Gallery of Victoria, in Melbourne. He followed the original message with images of a toilet pan full of Lego bricks signed “R. Mutt 2015” – a reference to Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 piece, Fountain.
A Lego spokesman told the Guardian that the company had never attempted to ban use of the bricks in projects which were not endorsed by the brand, and respected the right of “free creative expression”, but would not actively support such work through bulk sales.
Ai has not disclosed the details of the piece he intended to make for the Australian show.
But it is expected to be a version of a piece he first made for the prison island of Alcatraz last year where he used thousands of the plastic bricks to make floor mosaic portraits of prisoners of conscience and political activists, including Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Nelson Mandela.
Other artists also offered to help: the Chinese artist Wu Tun, a former studio assistant to Ai, tweeted an image of his hand holding out a brick towards a photograph of Ai, with the message “use mine, more than happy to make it”.
Dayna Galloway, a games lecturer at Abertay University, was one of many to urge the artist to switch to a rival plastic bricks firm, Mega Blocks: “same political message at a fraction of the cost”.
Ai first posted about the Lego decision on Friday, the last day of the state visit by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and explicitly linked it to David Cameron’s announcement of a new “golden era” in relations with the UK, and the news that a new Legoland will be built in Shanghai. The theme parks are operated by Merlin Entertainments, not by Lego itself. However Lego is also building a new factory in China, employing around 2,000 people, due to open in 2017.
In his Instagram post, Ai said: “As a commercial entity, Lego produces and sells toys, movies and amusement parks attracting children across the globe. As a powerful corporation, Lego is an influential cultural and political actor in the globalized economy with questionable values.”
In a statement Lego said: “We acknowledge, that Lego bricks today are used globally by millions of fans, adults, children and artists as a creative medium to express their imagination and creativity in many different ways. Projects that are not endorsed or supported by the Lego group.
“However, as a company dedicated to delivering great creative play experiences to children, we refrain – on a global level – from actively engaging in or endorsing the use of Lego bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda. This principle is not new.”
Ai, the designer of the Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympic games, has become one of the most popular and best known artists in the world, for work which is usually highly political and often autobiographical.
President Xi was kept well away from his retrospective at the Royal Academy in London – described by Guardian critic Adrian Searle as “full of surprises, shocks and tremors”. It includes a wall built from the rubble of his studio in Shanghai, after it was bulldozed by the authorities. Another piece is made of twisted skeins of steel, reinforcing rods that failed to support schools in the 2008 earthquake in China, displayed beside the names of more than 5,000 school children who died.
He has had to make many of his recent international exhibitions by email, mobile phone and through assistants free to travel, after he was briefly imprisoned, then placed under house arrest and his passport confiscated. He had made a piece for Documenta 12 in Germany of hundreds of empty antique chairs, each representing a Chinese citizen barred from travelling overseas – and soon found himself in the same condition.
His presence in London for the opening of the RA exhibition was something of a surprise. His passport was unexpectedly returned by the Chinese authorities last spring, only for his Instagram account, a frequent source of dire news about his relationship with authority, to reveal that Britain refused to give him a full business visa.
The 20-day tourist visa, not a six-month business visa, was claimed to be on the grounds of an undeclared criminal conviction. Despite his long periods of confinement, Ai had never been formally charged in China, still less convicted. The home secretary, Theresa May, personally intervened in the case, and instructed that the full visa be issued, and wrote to the artist apologising.