Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei on Monday unveiled a 60-metre inflatable rubber raft artwork carrying more than 300 anonymous oversized figures in Sydney , highlighting the plight of refugees across the world.
“Even we are living in a very peaceful world, almost like a fairytale in Australia, but still we cannot disassociate our connections to other human beings, the suffering and the tragic life of our global human community”, Ai Weiwei said.
Initially designed for the National Gallery of Prague, the artwork titled ‘Law of the Journey’, is the centre-piece of the 2018 Sydney Biennale and is made from the same manufactured rubber as that of vessels that carried refugees across the Mediterranean Sea.
Even we are living in a very peaceful world, almost like a fairytale in Australia, but still we cannot disassociate our connections to other human beings, the suffering and the tragic life of our global human community.
“So when I, first time went to Lesbos Greece island, one sees boats after boats of refugees approach Europe and the people doesn’t belong to Europe. They don’t speak the same language, they don’t have the same religion, they don’t dress the same. They have children, women, elderly people climb out of this kind of dinghy boat, which is very, very poor, poor transportation”, he added.
The artwork is installed on Cockatoo Island, a former shipbuilding site. Ai said the location is appropriate for “Australia’s record towards refugees”.
“I saw this piece, I feel this piece is really made for here. The industrial condition with the history of early migrants and also still current struggles with Australia’s record in towards refugees.People are disappearing … thousands of them. Children and people you can see they’ve lost their lives in the journey searching for freedom, for safety, for some kind of shelter and compassion. But once they arrived in Europe, basically they’re being refused by all kind of excuse. Politicians, policies and basically they are being neglected”, the Chinese dissident noted.
The exiled artist is also in Australia promoting his documentary ‘Human Flow’, and will speak at its Australian launch at the Sydney Opera House on March 15.