Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor’s Instagram-publicized protest in support of refugees happened yesterday in London with the pair leading a public march through the city that covered eight miles.
Carrying grey blankets as a symbol of the needs of the worlds refugees—many of which are seeking access to England and the United States—Ai and Kapoor were joined by a swarm of journalists and fellow protesters. The Guardian estimates that there were about 100 fellow activists at the event, but judging by the pictures, that appears to be a conservative estimate.
The pair began the march at approximately 10 am at the Royal Academy of Arts, where Ai’s already critically acclaimed retrospective will open tomorrow, and ended hours later at Kapoor’s massive ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.
“This is a walk of compassion, a walk together as if we were walking to the studio,” Kapoor said. “Peaceful. Quiet. Creative.”
Ai and Kapoor plan to repeat the walk in other cities and countries, viewing it as a creative act akin to art making.
“We are demanding creativity of others, recognizing that those who leave their country and go on a journey across the water full of danger or who walk hundreds of miles across land are also making a creative act,” Kapoor said.
“It is important that artists are not outside the equation, we don’t stand on the sidelines. Artists are part of the story of a response, we cannot stand aside and let others make the response.”
“Let us show the world we are involved,” Ai said.
The newfound camaraderie between Ai and Kapoor, two highly controversial artists, seems fitting, especially given the trying times both have faced recently. Earlier this year, Ai was denied a six-month visa to enter England after immigration officials claimed he had not declared a criminal conviction in his country (they later apologized and granted the artist a full visa). Meanwhile, Kapoor’s public sculpture Dirty Corner has been vandalized numerous times in Paris, recently by a band of anti-Semites.
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