The Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has begun work on a new art project in Germany. The piece will incorporate 14,000 life jackets discarded by migrants, who came to the island of Lesbos in Greece to shelter. Local mayor Spiros Galinos has provided the floatation devices for the artwork, the office revealed in a statement yesterday.
A statement from the artist reveals, “This work aims to mobilise the global community regarding the crime carried out daily in the Aegean by ruthless people smugglers.” The shoddily made jackets are produced in Turkey and sold to migrants at an inflated cost, by the smugglers. The life jackets offer little or no help, in an emergency at sea and are sometimes responsible for the actual death of the refugees.
Mr Ai, 58 has visited the island and was recently photographed on the beach posed as a deceased migrant. He aims to raise international awareness of the tragedy unfolding in Greece. Thousands of migrants have been killed trying to cross from Turkey to Greece in order to escape conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Africa.
Ai Weiwei is one of the most successful living contemporary artists. He recently closed a sold out retrospective exhibition at London’s Royal Academy.