Ai Wewei has been inundated with offers of LEGO bricks after the artist said a bulk order intended for a new project was denied by the Danish toymaker.
The Chinese dissident often uses LEGO bricks to build his artwork. But Ai Weiwei said in an Instagram post on Oct. 23 that his latest order was refused, as the company “cannot approve the use of Legos for political works.”
The artist was planning to use the Legos for an installation on freedom of speech at the National Gallery of Victoria, in Australia.
In a separate Instagram post on Oct. 24, Ai Weiwei said Lego’s decision was “an act of censorship and discrimination.”
His comments were answered with an outpouring of support on social media. Many people offered to donate their own LEGO bricks to the artist, using the hashtag #legosforweiwei.
LEGO spokesman Roar Rude wrote that the company policy is “not new” in an email to Quartz:
As a company dedicated to delivering great creative play experiences to children, we refrain—on a global level— from actively engaging in or endorsing the use of LEGO bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda. This principle is not new.
Ai Weiwei’s Instagram comments also suggested that LEGO’s decision was influenced by its plans to build a Legoland amusment park in Shanghai. But Lego told the Guardian that Legoland parks are a separate business operation, and were sold to Merlin Entertainments ten years ago.