over the past two years, ai weiwei has focussed his work on advocating for refugees’ human rights and documenting their displacement and tragic condition. the artist continues to respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis with a monumental exhibition at the national gallery in prague. ‘law of the journey’ uncovers a series of weiwei projects devoted to his time spent in refugee camps on the greek island of lesvos.


‘there’s no refugee crisis, but only human crisis… in dealing with refugees we’ve lost our very basic values,’ ai weiwei says. ‘in this time of uncertainty, we need more tolerance, compassion and trust for each other since we all are one. otherwise, humanity will face an even bigger crisis.’

ai weiwei national gallery prague
all images courtesy of the national gallery, prague



the exhibition ‘law of the journey’ unfolds across the trade fair palace in prague as a multi-layered statement on the human condition. inside the vast main hall, an enormous rubber boat is suspended from the ceiling, hovering within the gallery’s post-industrial, cathedral-like space. the overcrowded raft carries a mass of figures squeezed together, seemingly set for a journey across the unknown. through this gesture of reconstructing a desperate act of escape, ai weiwei seeks to pay tribute to the human tragedy of the present moment, and emphasize man’s desire for a sense of a belonging. 

ai weiwei national gallery prague
installation view of ‘law of the journey’ 



also featured in the exhibition is a selection of ai weiwei’s previous works: ‘laundromat’, a monumental display of carefully-hung clothes, meticulously-arranged shoes and precisely-folded blankets which the artist collected from an informal refugee camp in idomeni; and ‘snake ceiling’, a monument devoted to the more than 5,000 school children who died during a massive earthquake in china in 2008.


the exhibition is on view from now through january 7, 2018.

ai weiwei national gallery prague
‘law of the journey’ is an enormous rubber boat suspended from the ceiling

ai weiwei national gallery prague
the overcrowded raft carries a mass of figures squeezed together

ai weiwei national gallery prague
‘snake ceiling’ is a monument to the more than 5,000 school children who died in the earthquake in china in 2008

ai weiwei national gallery prague
installation view of ‘snake ceiling’

ai weiwei national gallery prague
‘laundromat’ is a monumental display of carefully-hung clothes the artist collected from a refugee camp in idomeni

ai weiwei national gallery prague
‘laundromat’ was previously presented at new york’s deitch projects
see more about the installation on designboom here 

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