Undoubtedly, Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most outspoken artists in regards to advocating for human rights. He has creatively and rebelliously ingrained himself in the contemporary art world as a visionary willing to lend his creative voice to level the powers that be. His thought-provoking creations have been viewed in galleries and museums around the world, perpetually bringing attention to the marginalized peoples and factions of our societies. His most recent creative work revolves around the incendiary topic of the global refugee crisis.
The National Gallery of Prague has recently unveiled his latest project entitled, “Law of the Journey,” which is a multi-tiered visual depiction of his time spent in 40 refugee camps over the past year. This exhibition is his largest-to-date, and urges viewers to wrap their minds around the ongoing refugee crisis that pervades around the world. The scale of the work in “Law of the Journey” is as massive as it is impressive, and centers around a 230-foot all-black inflatable boat that is carrying 258 faceless refugees. Weiwei’s decision to show this work at the National Gallery of Prague carries a two-fold meaning which relies on both the gallery’s post-industrial architectural aesthetics and the historical significance of the gallery’s location; the establishment once served as a location where Jews were once assembled prior to their deportation during WWII. Add to the mix the painstaking realities of the EU’s refugee relocation program, and the Czech Republic’s staunch position on not accepting refugees further adds a demonstrative tone to the artist’s, “Law of the Journey.”
The show also houses his previous work created in the same vein. His “Laundromat” series is a collection of clothing gathered from a refugee camp and “Snake Ceiling” – a serpentine sculpture made of backpacks that pays respect to the over 5,000 school children who were killed by the collapse of negligent infrastructure during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
“Ai Weiwei: Law of the Journey” is on view from March 17, 2017 to January 7, 2018.
National Gallery in Prague
Trade Fair Palace
Veletržní palác, Dukelských hrdinů 47,
Prague, Czech Republic