Sunday, 03 January, 2016

Ai Weiwei Raises Awareness About The Refugee Crisis with Lesbos Studio

Peace sign made from discarded refugee lifejackets Lesvos1 Jan 2016 Ai Weiwei wants to raise awareness about refugee crisis
Dana Christensen | 02 January, 2016, 20:46

"As an artist I want to be more involved, I want to (create) artworks in relation to the crisis and also create some kind of consciousness about the situation", he said. Almost 3,800 people are estimated to have drowned in the Mediterranean a year ago, making the journey to Greece or Italy in unseaworthy vessels packed far beyond capacity.

Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei, left, listens to Ioannis Mouzalas, the Greek Minister responsible for migration issues, ahead of a news conference in Athens, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016.

Ai warmly praised the people of Lesbos as having "very good understanding" of the refugees' plight and their needs and for being "very helpful and very tolerant" but emphasized their "very limited resources" to deal with the issue.

He praised the impressive work of several foreign non-governmental organisations, notably in the Netherlands, Norway and Spain.

He told a news conference in Athens that "some are public projects" and he has already spoken to the mayor of the island.

More than 1 million migrants and refugees reached Europe a year ago, mainly fleeing violence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, of whom four in five travelled via the Greek islands.

"I think the border is not really just in Lesvos but the border is on our mind, in our heart", he said at the news conference. Around 6 to 10 of his students will be working at there and Weiwei plans to visit several times this year.

(AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis). Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei addresses journalists during a news conference in Athens, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. Around six to ten students of his from China and Germany are also expected to work at the studio.

A migrant boy jumps in the air as he waits to travel to Greek islands by dinghies, near Cesme, Izmir, Turkey, late Thursday Dec. 31, 2015.

Ai Weiwei this week toured the island, which has seen thousands of refugees arriving from Turkey and across the Middle East.

Volunteers try to keep warm next to a makeshift fire on a beach of the Greek island of Lesbos, while waiting for arrivals of refugees and migrants from the Turkish coast, at the early hours, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016.