Ai Weiwei poses as drowned Syrian infant refugee in 'haunting' photo 3 Favorite 



Feb 1 2016


Lesbos, Greece

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has recreated the image of drowned infant Alan Kurdi that in 2015 became the defining symbol of the plight of Syria’s refugees.

For the recreation, Ai lay on a pebbled beach on the Greek island of Lesbos. His pose was similar to that of Kurdi’s lifeless body, which washed up on a beach near the Turkish town of Bodrum and was captured in a September 2015 photo.

Ai has been working in a studio on the Greek island as part of several projects that engage with the refugee crisis. The island has been a key point of entry into the European Union for thousands of refugees.

According to the Washington Post, the image of Ai was taken by photographer Rohit Chawla for the magazine India Today and an accompanying exhibition at the India Art Fair. Ai and his team were involved in the staging of the image.

Co-owner of the India Art Fair, Sandy Angus told the Washington Post: “It is an iconic image because it is very political, human and involves an incredibly important artist like Ai Weiwei.

“The image is haunting and represents the whole immigration crisis and the hopelessness of the people who have tried to escape their pasts for a better future.”

On Thursday Ai assisted asylum seekers who had arrived on a dinghy that landed on a beach near Lesbos’s Mytilene port. Photos and videos posted on the Facebook page of Ai’s studio with the hashtags #refugees and #lesvos depicted women, men and children wearing lifejackets and being given food and drink.

The previous day Ai announced his decision to close the exhibition Ruptures at Denmark’s Faurschou Foundation Copenhagen, in protest at a new law that allows Danish authorities to seize valuables from asylum seekers.

He told the Guardian on Thursday: “My moments with refugees in the past months have been intense. I see thousands come daily, children, babies, pregnant women, old ladies, a young boy with one arm.

“They come with nothing, barefoot, in such cold, they have to walk across the rocky beach. Then you have this news; it made me feel very angry.

“The way I can protest is that I can withdraw my works from that country. It is very simple, very symbolic – I cannot co-exist, I cannot stand in front of these people, and see these policies. It is a personal act, very simple; an artist trying not just to watch events but to act, and I made this decision spontaneously.”

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