One of our favorite things about the Internet is the way that it enables people from all around the globe to rally behind common causes. Causes that they might not have known about were it not for the lightening speed of Internet connectivity.
This week, one of those instances came in the form of people sending their Legos to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was refused a donation from the Lego company on the grounds that his artwork was deemed too political. Ai Weiwei had requested the blocks to assist him in building artwork for his participation in an upcoming show at Australia’s National Gallery of Victoria.
After the refusal, he took to Instagram to post about the incident.
The caption for the above photo states the following, implying a business deal could very well be behind Lego’s decision to deny Ai Weiwei a donation:
“In September Lego refused Ai Weiwei Studio’s request for a bulk order of Legos to create artwork to be shown at the National Gallery of Victoria as ‘they cannot approve the use of Legos for political works.’ On Oct 21, a British firm formally announced that it will open a new Legoland in Shanghai as one of the many deals of the U.K.-China ‘Golden Era.’”
Ai Weiwei posted a few more times in protest of the company’s decision, as well.
In rebuttal, Lego’s Australian head of marketing, Troy Taylor, stated that the company’s refusal to participate is not of the ordinary and not unique to Ai Weiwei. Taylor told ABC News: “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 from the LEGO Group.” The statement went on to say that, for bulk Lego purchases, “where we are made aware that there is a political context, we therefore kindly decline support.”
Ai Weiwei is no stranger to controversy of this type. He routinely uses his artistic passion to advocate against censorship and shine a light on human right’s violations in China – and was arrested in 2011 for his work in this area and is closely monitored by the Chinese government.
Regardless of the Lego company’s views and its potential business-related influence in denying the donation, Weiwei’s fellow humans, including kids, are stepping up to the plate big time to help him create his art and, as a result, take a stand against censorship and in support of artistic freedom – not to mention call out what they believe is hypocritical about Lego’s past marketing.
And Ai Weiwei is extremely grateful, expressing his appreciation for the support on Twitter and even setting up “collection points” to be able to receive Lego donations from his supporters in the most efficient way possible.
Kudos to all these humans, for helping Ai Weiwei and, in turn, encouraging other artists to speak their mind and be able to express themselves freely.
(Images via Instagram)