Lego says that they no longer consider it any of their damn business what their customers do with brick bulk buys.
This statement appears to be in response to the global social media outcry Lego faced last fall, when the company rejected Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s bulk order for an art exhibit. Lego states, however, that this is merely a clarification, not a revision of their age-old policy that states that the company will not “engage in the use of Lego bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda.”
This saga began in October 2015, when Ai Weiwei ordered Lego bricks in bulk to create an exhibition on freedom of speech in Melbourne, Australia. To Ai’s shock, the Lego company denied his request saying that it does not support the use of its products on political grounds.
At first, Ai held in his anger. But when Shanghai announced the construction of Legoland (a separate entity from the Lego Company) in late October, Ai decided that Chinese citizens needed to be aware of his experience before boarding the Lego “Coastersarus.”
Soon millions of fans worldwide pledged their support to Ai by donating their own plastic bricks to the artist. According to a BBC phone interview, Ai firmly believes that “every toy reflects a company’s understanding about our future, and how we encourage our children to understand essential values.” Clearly he is not alone in this sentiment.
Back in October, Ai tied Lego’s refusal to sell him bricks to the Danish company’s financial interests in China — the fastest growing market for Legos is China. Since Lego made this announcement at the start of 2016, however, Ai admitted that he “cannot clearly figure out the reasoning behind their [Lego’s] refusal.”
According to Ai, only one thing is for sure now: “The decision will help Lego encourage young people to use the freedom of speech.”
Since Ai had already completed his exhibition project with cheap knockoff bricks made by a Chinese company, he celebrated Lego’s announcement by pinning Lego bricks onto his face instead. Let bygones be bygones:
On whether he felt “vindicated” about Lego’s recent revision, Ai responded: “I do feel happy about the decision, for many people, not just for me. Now they can use the toy to express themselves.”
By Eugenia Xiao