To depict his view of the global refugee crisis, Ai Weiwei used 25 camera teams in 20 countries. The results involve many surreal scenes: tent camps erected between railways with passing Greek trains continually sounding their horns; aerial shots of perfectly symmetrical rows of tents with tiny dots in between that move around like ants; groups of white-clad Africans in Italy who seem to have escaped an art project instead of a war zone. The Chinese artist not only visualizes the scale of this difficult problem and the endless streams of people that it involves, but also the tragedies of individual refugees. Weiwei literally forces us to look hard and deep into these people’s eyes and go beyond all those anonymous headlines that we’ve slowly grown immune to. Powerful aesthetic shots that seem to be taken from a nature film alternate with smartphone images that zero in on the horror. The message is clear: these are not numbers or statistics, these are people forgotten by those capable of making a difference.
Ai Weiwei, Chin-chin Yap, Heino Deckert
Diane Weyermann for Participant Media, Jeff Skoll for Participant Media, Andrew Cohen for Andrew Cohen Films
Ai Weiwei, Murat Bay, Christopher Doyle, Wenhai Huang, Konstantinos Koukoulis, Renaat Lambeets, Li Dongxu, Lv Hengzhong, Ma Yan, Johannes Waltermann, Xie Zhenwei, Zanbo Zhang
Niels Pagh Andersen