To Learn More About the Refugee Crisis, Ai Weiwei Turne…

Saleah Blancaflor

Last February, artist Ai Weiwei draped the columns of a concert hall in Berlin with life jackets used by refugees as they crossed the Mediterranean.

His latest art installation, scheduled to be on display from October to February 2018, includes two cage-like structures in New York City — a silver one in Washington Square Park with the silhouette of two people embracing and a golden one in Central Park. In Queens, he has also installed a low fence around the Unisphere, the globe built to celebrate the 1964 World’s Fair.

The pieces, along with other exhibits installed throughout the city as part of Ai’s “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” use structures like bars and turn-styles to highlight the refugee crisis.

Their creation is connected to the documentary “Human Flow,” Ai’s directorial debut. Scheduled to be released in select theaters Friday, the film opens with refugees arriving by boat on the island of Lesbos, Greece, where Ai got many of the life jackets used in his Berlin installation.

“I wanted to do anything possible to not only support and honor the people who are still living and who have died, but as a reminder that this is something happening all over the world,” Ai told NBC News.

According to the United Nations, more than 65 million people were displaced from their homes at the end of 2016 due to violence and persecution.




Image: Ai Weiwei Creates Art Installation From Refugee Life Vests

People walk past an art installation by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei that consists of life vests worn by refugees bound to the columns of the concert house at Gendarmenmarkt on February 14, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. The life vests were among the thousands discarded by migrants and refugees after they crossed the sea from Turkey to Greece.