Prague, March 10 (CTK) – Chinese conceptual artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, 59, has prepared his so far biggest work of art, a giant refugee boat entitled “The Law of the Journey,” for the National Gallery (NG) in Prague, the NG said in a press release on Friday.
The artifact will be displayed in the grand hall of the NG premises in the Veletrzni palace where its installation is being completed these days.
A 70-metre-long inflatable boat with above life-size figures of 258 refugees of some dark material will hang in the air in the hall, accompanied by a big glass ball in which the artifact will br reflected.
NG says this is the culmination of the artist’s interest in the global refugee crisis.
After the official opening of Ai Weiwei’s exhibition on March 16, the installation can be seen in the Veletrzni palace until January 7, 2018.
The author says the artifact was inspired by his experience from Lesbos where a half-sunken boat was found. He wanted to be left alone there to feel how the refugees must have felt. He found a baby bottle and the Bible in the boat, he said.
The curators of his prepared exhibition in Prague are NG general director Jiri Fajt and Adam Budak, chief curator of the NG collections.
By his giant artifact, Ai Weiwei wants not only to confront viewers with an extremely difficult situation of human beings at large, but also to point to the fact that the migrant crisis is dividing modern society into “we” and “they,” the curators said.
In 2016, Ai Weiwei presented his Zodiac sculpture project outside the NG’s Veletrzni palace.
This year’s installation, the giant refugee boat, created exclusively for the NG, will be accompanied by other works.
One of them, entitled Laundromat, will have a European premiere in Prague. It occupies a whole room whose walls will be papered with some 20,000 photographs from the Idomeni refugee camp at the Greek-Macedonian border. Clothes hanging on stands in the room like in a big cloakroom or laundromat will evoke those that refugees left behind in the camp.
An enormous snake by Ai Weiwei will be installed on the ceiling. Visitors will see it immediately after entering the Veletrzni palace. Its body consists of many children’s little backpacks, referring to the earthquake in the Chinese Sichuan province in 2008, in which 20,000 people, including 5,000 school children, died.
Besides, his giant mobile lamp, Traveling Light, will be displayed in the Veletrzni palace, along with the installation called “With Flowers” that the artist created in house arrest. It should remind of the necessity to defend human rights and freedoms, the curators say.