Photo Feature: Tim Marlow Donates Lego At The Royal Academy Of Arts




After Ai Weiwei, the Chinese dissident artist recently reported that the Danish toy manufacturer Lego had turned down a request by the artist’s Beijing studio for a large order of building blocks, on political grounds. Ai then posted on Instagram, stating Lego had refused their bulk order in September. Lego’s response was that it couldn’t “approve the use of Legos for political works.”

Image: The collection point outside Ai Weiwei’s retrospective, RA courtyard. Photograph: Twitter.

As a result the artist announced a series collection points where supporters could deposit their Lego donations. Now, London’s Royal Academy, which is currently the location of the artist’s blockbuster retrospective, is using a second-hand BMW 5 series sedan as an official collection point outside the gallery – where spare bricks can be tossed through an open sunroof – parked in the RA courtyard.

Image: The collection point outside Ai Weiwei’s retrospective, RA courtyard. Photograph: Twitter.

Lego’s refusal to supply its bricks to the artist may have had to do with a contract between the British firm Merlin Entertainments, who intend to open a ‘Legoland’ park in Shanghai announced on Chinese president Xi Jinping’s State visit to the UK last week – prompted the Royal Academy of Arts to issue an appeal to Ai’s supporters to donate their own Lego bricks to the cause.

Image: The collection point outside Ai Weiwei’s retrospective, RA courtyard. Photograph: Twitter.

The artist added: “As a powerful corporation, Lego is an influential cultural and political actor in the globalised economy with questionable values. Lego’s refusal to sell its product to the artist is an act of censorship and discrimination.”

Image: Tim Marlow at the collection point outside Ai Weiwei’s retrospective, RA courtyard. Photograph: Twitter.

The Royal Academy of Arts’ donation point resides outside of its current exhibition: the landmark retrospective of the Honorary Royal Academician, (Ai Weiwei), where one of it’s chief curators, Tim Marlow, was seen donating bricks to the cause. It could be a very interesting project in light of this recent statement: “in response to Lego’s refusal and the overwhelming public response, Ai Weiwei has now decided to make a new work to defend freedom of speech and ‘political art.'”

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Photos via Twitter 2015


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