China's Most Notorious Artist Just Closed His Shows in Denmark to Protest Anti-Migrant Law

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Denmark will no longer be enjoying the gift of expensive dissident Chinese art thanks to a recent decision by the country's parliament. 

Ai Weiwei — the artist and activist who rose to global celebrity in 2011 after being detained in a Chinese jail for 81 days on dubious charges — has removed his work from two major exhibitions in Copenhagen to protest the Danish government's ratification of a widely panned new bill, TIME reported.

The bill — which was approved by 81 of the 109 parliament members who voted, according to the Local — allows the government to seize cash and high-priced valuables from asylum-seekers in order to fund their stay in local detention centers.

The policy has drawn comparisons to Nazi Germany, where valuables were similarly seized from Jewish families and occupied territories during World War II to fund military efforts and fill Nazi museums.

Ai Weiwei's announcement came in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

It reads:

Ai Weiwei has decided to close his exhibit "Ruptures" at Faurschou Foundation Copenhagen, Denmark. This decision follows the Danish parliament's approval of the law proposal that allows seizing valuables and delaying family reunions for asylum seekers.
Jens Faurschou backs the artists decision and regrets that the Danish parliament choses [sic] to be in the forefront of symbolic and inhuman politics of todays [sic] biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe and the Middle East, instead of being in the forefront of a respectful European solution to solve the acute humanitarian crisis.

Weiwei's work was being shown at the Aros Aarhus Art Museum and the Faurschou Foundation gallery, both in Copenhagen.

The 58-year-old Beijing native is no stranger to taking political stances. Since 2005, when he started blogging on Sina Weibo — known stateside as "the Chinese Twitter" — Weiwei has become almost as well-known for his scathing critiques of Chinese governmental policy as for his sculptures, photographs and installations.

In May 2008, he led a citizens' investigation to compile the names of the more than 5,335 students who died in poorly constructed schoolhouses during an 8.0-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan — a task the Chinese government had shown a lack of transparency in completing. 

The materials he collected during that process — including photographs, video footage and actual parts of the wreckage — formed the basis for numerous artworks critical of the Chinese government. He has since been subject to harassment, arrest and detainment on many occasions stemming from his activism.

In recent months, Denmark has become increasingly hostile to the wave of migrants and asylum-seekers entering Europe from parts of Africa and the Middle East. According to the Washington Post, the chilly Scandinavian nation recently cut social benefits to refugees by 50%, riding the wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric that's gripped Europe and the U.S. since the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.

It's an ugly look, especially at a time when the Syrian Civil War alone has displaced 9 million people since 2011 — all of whom seek new homes. Count on Ai Weiwei to use his art once again to denounce political insanity.

h/t Time

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Zak Cheney Rice

Zak is a Senior Staff Writer at Mic.

MORE FROM

Kshama Sawant on why Seattle needs an independent investigation into the Charleena Lyles shooting

Seattle City Councilperson Kshama Sawant, member of Socialist Alternative party, discusses the Charleena Lyles investigation, tenant voter registration, why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 and more.

The EPA seeks to undo clean water rule, putting 117 million Americans' water at risk

The new rule could have "long-reaching consequences for everyone living in the United States.”

This small Ohio town might stop treating heroin overdoses to save the city money

"People will die. It's plain and simple."

Here's what New York's first official LGBTQ monument will look like

Here's our first look at New York's new monument to LGBT communities.

How will Trump's travel ban be enforced? Here's what the Supreme Court's decision really means.

The Supreme Court's order prevents most of the ban from taking effect before the case is heard, with limited exceptions.

Tick saliva could be the key to fighting a dangerous heart condition

Ticks could hold the secret to treating this heart condition.

Kshama Sawant on why Seattle needs an independent investigation into the Charleena Lyles shooting

Seattle City Councilperson Kshama Sawant, member of Socialist Alternative party, discusses the Charleena Lyles investigation, tenant voter registration, why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 and more.

The EPA seeks to undo clean water rule, putting 117 million Americans' water at risk

The new rule could have "long-reaching consequences for everyone living in the United States.”

This small Ohio town might stop treating heroin overdoses to save the city money

"People will die. It's plain and simple."

Here's what New York's first official LGBTQ monument will look like

Here's our first look at New York's new monument to LGBT communities.

How will Trump's travel ban be enforced? Here's what the Supreme Court's decision really means.

The Supreme Court's order prevents most of the ban from taking effect before the case is heard, with limited exceptions.

Tick saliva could be the key to fighting a dangerous heart condition

Ticks could hold the secret to treating this heart condition.