Ai Weiwei's Big Fuck You to Denmark's Plan to Seize Refugees' Valuables
As refugees continue flooding into Europe, the responses have swayed wildly from humane shows of solidarity to the downright cruel. Unfortunately, Denmark has joined the latter camp after passing a new law on Tuesday that requires refugees seeking asylum to hand over valuables—including jewelry and gold—to help pay for their stay in the country. After some backlash, the country allowed sentimental items like wedding rings to be kept, but computers and cell phones are up for grabs. Douchemark is officially the worst country of the week.
The move follows a wave of backlash over the refugee crisis in Europe that has led other countries like Hungary to build razor-wire fences on their border with Croatia. In addition to robbing the immigrants of the possessions they carried with them on the long trek to safety, Denmark also created another stipulation for immigrants that states they must wait three years before they can apply to bring their families into the country. It’s an inhumane and overwhelmingly fucked up response to a marginalized group of people who are fleeing from war zones in their home countries and risking everything for a better life.
Backlash against Denmark’s new laws have been swift and, for one political artist whose name isn’t Banksy, the inhumanity of the measure has simply gone too far. Renowned activist and Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei announced that he will be retracting his artwork from two galleries in Denmark as a protest against the country’s new laws. Weiwei will be closing his solo exhibition Ruptures at Copenhagen’s Faurschou Foundation and retracting an installation from A New Dynasty—Created in China, a group show of Chinese artists at the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Aarhus.
In response to his cancellation of the the two exhibits, museum directors at ARoS and the Faurschou Foundation have taken decidedly different approaches in their statements. One of the curators at ARoS, Erlend G. Høyersten, jumped on the defensive and criticized the move. “At this very moment in time, and more than ever before, the people of Europe need cultural institutions to allow space for free thoughts and words,” he said in a statement. “While I profoundly respect his reaction to Danish refugee policy, I think it unreasonable that an entire country and its people should be punished as a result of government policies.”
The tone over at the Faurschou Foundation was vastly different as the organization released the following statement on their website:
“Jens Faurschou backs the artist’s decision and regrets that the Danish parliament chose to be in the forefront of symbolic and inhuman politics of todays biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe and the Middle East, instead of being in the forefront of a respectful European solution to solve the acute humanitarian crisis.”
No matter how art lovers and museum owners react, it should come as no surprise that Weiwei has taken this action in response to Denmark’s new laws. He’s marched in solidarity with refugees in London, met with some of the displaced on the Island of Lesbos, and opened a studio to raise awareness about the refugee crisis. As anti-immigration sentiment reaches a new inhuman low, it’s good to know that some people continue to take a stand against injustice.
Stay tuned to Milk for updates on the refugee crisis.
Images via Ai Weiwei’s Instagram and The Guardian.