in the center of nyhavn — a historic waterfront district in copenhagen — ai weiwei has installed 3,500 life jackets collected from refugees in lesbos across the façade of the kunsthal charlottenborg. opening on united nations international refugee day (june 20) and on view until october 1, 2017, ‘soleil levant’ barricades the institution’s grid of windows. the installation continues ai weiwei’s artistic interest in bringing more awareness to the ongoing refugee crisis, previously filling a new york gallery with thousands of garments gathered from refugee camps, and wrapping the façade of florence’s palazzo strozzi in rubber life boats

ai weiwei kunsthal charlottenborg
the installation is located in the center of nyhavn, a historic waterfront district in copenhagen
photo by david stjernholm, courtesy of the artist (also main image)

 

 

ai weiwei’s ‘soleil levant’ draws from an 1872 painting by claude monet depicting the harbor in le havre at the end of the 1870-71 franco-prussian war. while monet’s impression captures the social reality of its time — with cranes and steamboats signifying rapid industrialization — ai weiwei’s installation at kunsthal charlottenborg draws attention to the political realities of today through the use of salvaged lifejackets. visually, the intervention parallels the disturbing conditions refugees are subject to when journeying across the ocean by lifeboat — dangerously confined and painfully cramped.   

ai weiwei kunsthal charlottenborg
3,500 life jackets collected from refugees in lesbos are installed across the museum’s façade
photo by anders sune berg, courtesy of the artist

ai weiwei kunsthal charlottenborg
‘soleil levant’ barricades the institution’s grid of windows
photo by anders sune berg, courtesy of the artist

ai weiwei kunsthal charlottenborg
the installation continues ai weiwei’s artistic interest in bringing more awareness to the ongoing refugee crisis
photo by david stjernholm, courtesy of the artist

ai weiwei kunsthal charlottenborg
visually, the intervention parallels the disturbing conditions refugees are subject to
photo by anders sune berg, courtesy of the artist

ai weiwei kunsthal charlottenborg
ai weiwei’s installation at kunsthal charlottenborg draws attention to the political realities of today
photo by anders sune berg, courtesy of the artist

ai weiwei kunsthal charlottenborg
‘soleil levant’ draws its name from an 1872 painting by claude monet
photo by anders sune berg, courtesy of the artist

ai weiwei kunsthal charlottenborg
the artwork remains on view until october 1, 2017
photo by anders sune berg, courtesy of the artist

  • “the disturbing conditions refugees are subject to” …are self-inflicted. Your neighbor does not have a ‘right’ to occupy your house because the conditions within his are miserable.

    Jim

    JimCan says:
  • Would have been interesting to see how the lighting conditions are affected within the museum, though perhaps the filling of the windows are meant to imply that the entire building is stuffed full with life jackets?

    AverageRage says:
  • That’s nice. One hopes the 3,500 life jackets will be returned to the boats so that the next lot of refugees don’t drown. Otherwise it’s just a giant piece of landfill.

    Sheridan says:
  • JimCan
    Your commentary border racism ! I wonder how war, poverty or hunger could be “self inflicted”.
    On the contrary, when your neighbor suffer it is your duty to help him; because it can happen to anyone.
    Ai Weiwei is one of the greatest linving artist, especialy because of his commitment to such causes

    Pierre BISSEK says:
  • This would have been a much stronger installation had Weiwei used the canal to display all 3,500 life jackets. The context of the life jackets to the building’s windows is odd and unconvincing. As for being “crammed in” I think the same effect could of been achieved on the water forming a much more impactful relationship. I am a big fan of Weiwei’s work but this one does not work for me.

    John Vickers says:

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