Ai Weiwei has been a harsh critic of Europe’s response to its refugee crisis.
He recently set up a studio on the Greek island of Lesbos, the main entry point for tens of thousands of refugees who make the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey. He is working on several projects that highlight the refugees’ plight, recently reenacting the harrowing photo of drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi.
In Lesbos, the artist has been collecting thousands life jackets discarded by refugees when they reach the coast, for an installation that opened today (Feb. 13) in Berlin. Some 14,000 of the orange life vests were wrapped around the pillars of the city’s concert hall.
More than 3,700 migrants died crossing the Mediterranean last year, according to the International Organization for Migration. Many would-be refugees are trying to reach Germany, which registered more than 1 million migrants last year.