Ai Weiwei Has Made A Stunning Art Project About Refugees In Germany

The Chinese artist wrapped the columns of a Berlin concert hall in life vests used by desperate refugees trying to reach European shores.

1. For months, China’s most acclaimed contemporary artist, Ai Weiwei, has been working on the Greek islands that are the arrival point for thousands of refugees that have poured into Europe over the past year.

Santi Palacios / AP

2. On Saturday, the artist unveiled a new work dealing with the refugee crisis. His team wrapped the columns of the Berlin Concert Hall in life vests used by migrants who went on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

Markus Schreiber / AP

3. At least 374 people have died at sea this year while trying to cross into Europe, the International Organization for Migration told BuzzFeed News.

4. Those who succeed often leave behind the life vests they used to make the crossing. Many are mass-produced in Turkey and are often defective.

Bradley Secker

5. This BuzzFeed News photo series from November showcased the thousands of vests on the island of Lesbos — a stark reminder of the scale of the migration crisis.

Bradley Secker

6. Authorities on Lesbos gave the Chinese artist some 14,000 reclaimed life jackets for his project, according to the Associated Press.

Markus Schreiber / AP

7. The installation has been timed to coincide with the Berlin International Film Festival, which draws heavy media interest around the world.

Markus Schreiber / AP

8. Germany has been a preferred country for many of the tens of thousands of refugees and migrants who have poured into Europe, fleeing war and poverty.

Markus Schreiber / AP

9. Earlier this month in the Czech capital, Prague, Ai Weiwei unveiled another refugee-themed outdoor work. He wrapped bronze animal heads depicting the traditional Chinese zodiac in thermal blankets given to refugees when they reach European shores.

Petr David Josek / AP

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David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
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