Shortly after retracting his work from Danish museums in protest of an anti-immigration bill, Ai Weiwei is drawing even more attention to the Syrian refugee crisis by recreating last year’s haunting image of drowned infant Alan Kurdi. Taken by photographer Rohit Chawla for India Today magazine, the recreated picture is currently gathering crowds at an exhibition at the India Art Fair.
“It is an iconic image because it is very political, human and involves an incredibly important artist like Ai Weiwei,” the Fair’s co-owner, Sandy Angus, stressed. “The image is haunting and represents the whole immigration crisis and the hopelessness of the people who have tried to escape their pasts for a better future.”
Having drowned in the Mediterranean Sea on the way to seek asylum from Syria, the body of 3-year-old Kurdi washed up on a beach near the Turkish town of Bodrum in September.
Ai posed for the recreation on the Greek island of Lesbos, where he’s been aiding refugees since last year.
Chawla shared that Ai and his team of activists “actively helped in staging” the photograph for India Today.
“I am sure it wasn’t very comfortable to lie down on the pebbles like that. But the soft evening light fell on his face when he lay down,” described Chawla.
The magazine’s senior editor too had nothing but praise for Ai and his cause:
When I said to him, ‘I will meet you at your studio,’ Ai Weiwei answered, ‘the seashore is my studio.’ He is such a great artist, but to me he also appeared to be a Mahatma Gandhi-like figure. He is very warm and humble, but his very presence there in that situation as tired, cold, wet refugees arrived was colossal. And very political.
On Thursday, Ai helped a new group of asylum seekers who arrived in a dinghy at port Mytilene on Lesbos. Here are some snapshots of the arrival:
[Images via Twitter / Facebook / Instagram]