Posted on Oct 25, 2015

    Children Are Sending Lego To Ai Weiwei After He Was Banned From Using It For Political Reasons

    The Danish toy company said it "cannot approve the use of Legos for political works", but kids have other ideas.

    Ai Weiwei was refused a bulk order of Lego for a forthcoming show at Australia's National Gallery of Victoria because the company "cannot approve the use of Legos for political works", the prominent Chinese artist said on Instagram.

    On Instagram, Weiwei said: "Lego's refusal to sell its product to the artist is an act of censorship and discrimination."

    Weiwei has been detained by Chinese authorities for his work as a political activist. On his release he described conditions as "a kind of mental torture".

    Earlier this week he accused the British government of ignoring human rights issues in China.

    After the artist's message went out, people began sending their own Lego to Ai Weiwei.

    LEGO won't support @aiww, label his art "political".James wants to send lego to @aiww to make his brilliant art.

    One man said Ai was welcome to "borrow" his lego.

    .@LEGO_Group this is about 10% of our #Lego collection. We won't be buying more. @aiww you're welcome to borrow it.

    Some offered their own "political" version of Lego.

    Who says Lego's not political. #legosforweiwei Image from

    Support for Ai was huge.

    My feed is over overflowing with love for @aiww and his LEGO struggles. You can't tell me art isn't universally important. #legosforweiwei

    On Twitter, Ai received the donations gratefully.

    all of it!wow

    On Instagram, Ai wrote that Lego had said its trademark "cannot be used commercially in any way to promote, or name, the art work".

    Lego's head of marketing for Australia, Troy Taylor, told ABC News that the brand refrains from "actively engaging in or endorsing the use of Lego bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda". He added that this was not a new approach from the Lego group.

    "The title of the artwork cannot incorporate the LEGO trademark," Ai wrote.

    The artwork in question is part of Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei, due to open in Melbourne in December. "The artwork's concept relates to freedom of speech," Weiwei said.

    Some were reminded of the somewhat warmer reception Warhol received when including a brand in an artwork.

    @LEGO_Group @aiww one wonders how campbell soup responded to Warhol 😑 ...

    A spokesperson for the National Gallery Victoria told the Herald Sun newspaper that it was working with Ai on another artwork.

    "The work will be a new installation focusing on Australian activists, advocates and champions of human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of information, and the internet," the spokesperson said. "We are very much looking to seeing the final form this work will take."

    Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Laura Silver at

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here