Over the holidays, Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei has been setting up a studio on the Greek island of Lesbos, a major point of entry for people seeking asylum in Europe. In September last year the island was hosting 17,000 refugees in its capital alone, almost a quarter of the islands entire 85,000 population.
Weiwei, who walked eight miles across London last September to highlight the plight of refugees, has now reinforced his commitment to shining the spotlight on this humanitarian crisis. His instagram account is filled with photographs inside the camps in Lesbos. In videos posted only a week ago, we see a team of helpers carry babies and children off a boat that has just landed ashore.
The studio in Lesbos will produce work from the artist himself and his students, on themes related to the refugee crisis, he told reporters. A facebook page, Ai Weiwei Camps, is the place to follow the studio’s progress. Weiwei has praised the efforts and kindness of the locals, workers and volunteers in Lesbos, but has emphasised that their resources are limited.
Last week he announced that he would also create a memorial on the island, “A lot of people have lost their lives under the waves…we need a memorial,” he told Agence France-Presse. “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.”