Ai Weiwei sets up studio on Lesbos to highlight refugee crisis

Ai Weiwei posts a photo on Instagram with the 'brave man from Afghanistan' Source: Instagram

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has set up a studio on the Greek island of Lesbos where he will work on a new project devoted to the refugee crisis.

He told a news conference in Athens that "some are public projects" and he has already spoken to the mayor of the island.

"I think that good art only comes out from when we have strong beliefs in aesthetics and human dignity. This can never be separated," he said.

He also announced plans to establish a memorial on Lesbos to honour the lives of refugees who had died at sea. 

He said he would be holding workshops in China and Germany to contribute to the projects. 

"This is a very historical moment from any perspective. As an artist I want to be more involved, I want to (create) artworks in relation to the crisis and also create some kind of consciousness about the situation," he told the AFP news agency.

Ai Weiwei this week toured the island, which has seen thousands of refugees arriving from Turkey and across the Middle East.

"I think the border is not really just in Lesvos but the border is on our mind, in our heart," he said at the news conference.

Ai Weiwei documented his trip to the Greek island of Lesbos with photo posts on Instagram. 

The posts include a video showing the arrival of boat carrying people to the island's shores from Turkey. 

More than one million migrants and refugees reached Europe this year, according to the International Organisation of Migration and the United Nations.

The majority of those arriving by sea have fled conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.


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