Ai Weiwei, the Chinese Contemporary artist and activist, has been receiving immense love from fans across the globe after Lego refused to sell the activist artist a bulk order for a forthcoming artwork.
In a recent Instagram post, the artist revealed that the Danish toy company refused to provide him with blocks he will need for his upcoming exhibit in Sydney.
“Lego told him – they cannot approve the use of Legos for political works and later called the decision, an act of censorship and discrimination,” The Guardian noted.
Ai is one of the most prominent artists in China, known to use his artworks as a form of protest to the government.
According to Skynews, Ai has used the toy blocks “to create portraits of political activists from around the world for an exhibition at Alcatraz prison in the United States last year and intended to create a Lego artwork for his upcoming show at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.”
Surprised at Lego’s reaction to his request, the artist said at a press conference in Berlin, “I was flabbergasted as it was a perfectly respectable order,” notes Sky News.
In response to Lego’s move, multiple fans have taken a stand for Ai and have offered to donate their own Lego blocks to complete his project, some using the hashtag #legosforweiwei on social media.
Ai Weiwei says he’ll accept Lego donations from fans and will set up collection spots worldwide. One collection point is in Beijing, wherein a car parked outside his studio in Beijing has Lego bricks on its roof, notes Sky News.
In a statement, Lego said, as noted by NPR:
“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 Weiwei’s Lego artwork will be included in his upcoming exhibition “Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei” at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.