Best known as childhood toys, Legos are the intended building blocks for Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei’s upcoming installation. However, the toy manufacturer has rejected Ai Weiwei’s bulk order, reflecting the company’s wish to remain politically neutral. As Roar Rude Trangbaek, a Lego spokesman expressed, “In cases where we receive requests for donations or support for projects – such as the possibility of purchasing Lego bricks in very large quantities, which is not possible through normal sales channels – where we are made aware that there is a political context, we therefore kindly decline support.”
Ai Weiwei’s art commonly communicates a pro-democracy theme. The political nature of his art has led to confrontations with both the Chinese and other Western governments. In 2011, Ai was detained for three months, then placed under house arrest with his passport taken away by the Chinese government.
Following Lego’s refusal to sell to him, Ai’s Instagram account announced on Monday, “Ai Weiwei has now decided to make a new work to defend freedom of speech and ‘political art.’ Ai Weiwei Studio will announce the project and Lego collection points in different cities.” This refusal has sparked strong sentiment among his strong follower base. On Twitter, fans pledged to donate their personal childhood sets for the exhibit’s use.
Contributor: Elaine Chen