In September Lego refused Ai Weiwei Studio's request for a bulk order of Legos to create artwork to be shown at the National Gallery of Victoria as "they cannot approve the use of Legos for political works." On Oct 21, a British firm formally announced that it will open a new Legoland in Shanghai as one of the many deals of the U.K.-China "Golden Era."
by Agape Charmani
One of the things art school taught me is that contemporary art is one big boiling pot that includes everything -and I mean everything, that exists in this world. I think of the mixture inside the pot, as a bright, stinky pulp that makes weird sounds, and explodes every time someone adds something in it. One of the people that have been involved in the cooking of this mixture, is Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
And when someone introduced the beloved artist to Instagram, this mixture kind of exploded! His latest addition to the expanding art reality on social media is his outrage against The Lego Group. The company refused to sell him a bulk order for a new exhibit in Australia, something that of course didn’t and would not stop the famous artist.
Lego is giving us the definition of what is "political",and all the big corporations are telling us what to love or hate. that awesome.
— 艾未未 Ai Weiwei (@aiww) October 25, 2015
Weiwei has been planning the Lego artwork since June for the upcoming Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei show at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. The exhibition opens in December 2015 and in one of his many Instagram posts, the artist slammed the Lego company, “In September 2015 Lego refused to sell Ai Weiwei Studio a bulk order of Lego bricks for Ai’s artworks to be exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne on the basis of the works’ “political” nature. Ai posted this notice on his Instagram on Friday, October 23rd. Lego’s position triggered a torrent of outrage on social media against this assault on creativity and freedom of expression. Numerous supporters offered to donate Lego to Ai. In response to Lego’s refusal and the overwhelming public response, 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 description and Lego collection points in different cities.”
His thousands of fans didn’t receive well this refusal and their reaction and support was overwhelming. Many offered Weiwei their own Lego collections with the hashtag #LegosForWeiwei, which the artist accepted and announced he’ll establish collection sites across the world.
We know Weiwei, we know his work and his passion about it, and all we have to say is, the joke’s on you Lego people.
"We're here to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow" (twitter.com/LEGO_Group) In June 2015 Ai Weiwei Studio began to design artworks which would have required a large quantity of Lego bricks to produce. The works were planned for the exhibition "Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei" at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, to open in December 2015. The artworks' concept relates to freedom of speech. The museum's curatorial team contacted Lego to place a bulk order and received Lego's reply via email on 12 September 2015: "We regret to inform you that it is against our corporate policy to indicate our approval of any unaffiliated activities outside the LEGO licensing program. However, we realize that artists may have an interest in using LEGO elements, or casts hereof, as an integrated part of their piece of art. In this connection, the LEGO Group would like to draw your attention to the following: The LEGO trademark cannot be used commercially in any way to promote, or name, the art work. The title of the artwork cannot incorporate the LEGO trademark. We cannot accept that the motive(s) are taken directly from our sales material/copyrighted photo material. The motive(s) cannot contain any political, religious, racist, obscene or defaming statements. It must be clear to the public that the LEGO Group has not sponsored or endorsed the art work/project. Therefore I am very sorry to let you know that we are not in a position to support the exhibition Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei by supplying the bulk order." Ai Weiwei Studio was informed by NGV about Lego's rejection of the bulk order. As a commercial entity, Lego produces and sells toys, movies and amusement parks attracting children across the globe. As a powerful corporation, Lego is an influential cultural and political actor in the globalized economy with questionable values. Lego's refusal to sell its product to the artist is an act of censorship and discrimination.
In September 2015 Lego refused to sell Ai Weiwei Studio a bulk order of Lego bricks for Ai's artworks to be exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne on the basis of the works' "political" nature. Ai posted this notice on his Instagram on Friday, October 23rd. Lego's position triggered a torrent of outrage on social media against this assault on creativity and freedom of expression. Numerous supporters offered to donate Lego to Ai. In response to Lego's refusal and the overwhelming public response, 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 description and Lego collection points in different cities. This is the first phase of the coming projects.
LEGO COLLECTION POINT INSTRUCTIONS 1. Ai Weiwei Studio is organizing a number of Collection Points in different cities. 2. Ai Weiwei would like to rent, borrow or buy second-hand a BMW 5S Series sedan, of which the color can vary, as a Lego container. The vehicle must have clear windows and a sunroof that can be fixed open with a 5 cm opening so that people can insert Legos. It should be free of any advertising or other decoration. 3. The car should be parked and locked in a central location of the city that can be easily accessed by the public. The vehicle should remain in the parking space for one month or a longer period of time, preferably in a location related to arts or culture, indoor or outdoor. 4. Ai Weiwei Studio will be solely responsible for the custody and removal of the Lego container. 5. Ai Weiwei will indicate the location of the containers on his Instagram and Twitter @aiww. 6. A mailing address will also be provided for donors. Please contact：firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. October 26, 2015
The National Gallery of Victoria has decided to become the first collection point in Australia for LEGO bricks donations. Drop-in deliveries will be accepted in a BMW vehicle located in the gallery's sculpture garden. Donations can also be sent by mail to the museum at 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC 3004.