Chinese artist and humanitarian activist Ai Weiwei presents his latest monumental artwork to be part of the 9th Passages Insolites art exhibition in Canada. This "grief-filled" installation has taken over the 17th-century Royal Battery fortifications with 2,000 life jackets affixed to the wall. The Life Jackets installation was built from a buoy found on the edge of the Greek island of Lebos, where Syrians landed after a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean sea from Turkey.
(Ai Weiwei has designed his latest work - the installation of a Life Jacket to the City of Quebec)
"The buoys are tied together to represent the physical and administrative borders that stand in the way of refugees as they seek to escape the ongoing civil war in Syria in hopes of finding safety in Europe," Ai Weiwei said.
The part of Europe that is the midpoint of Syrian's journey raises various doubts for most refugees (continuing a challenging journey or stopping). Most Syrians decide to jump off the ship with their buoys and hope to find safety in Europe.
(The installation consists of 2000 jackets found on the edge of the island of Lebos)
As a result, about 2000 buoys were found to be "silent witnesses" to their journey and eventually used for this installation. Through the Life Jackets Installation, Ai Weiwei has shown the number of lives at stake in seeking peace in Europe. From this installation, Ai Weiwei highlights the plight of Syrian refugees and hopes that the public and the government will do the right thing and restore peace in Syria.
(Details of the installation of Life Jackets)
Through the installation of "Life Jackets," Ai Weiwei presents a sensitive socio-political commentary on the dangers of the migration crisis. "Agglomerated by the thousands to create a symbolic border, these remnants of the migration crisis refer to the dangers of those desperately trying to escape the violence of war," said Passages Insolites.
(Several buoys float on the water to give the impression of the movement of the waves in the middle of the sea)
The selection of installation site was deliberately placed in the royal battery fortifications in the city of Quebec, due to its history that highlights North American migration. Royal Battery was built by France in 1961 as a military defensive structure against the British invasion. It was this great history that prompted Ai Weiwei in deciding to place the Life Jackets Installation in the Royal Battery.
(With the installation of Life Jackets, it is hoped that it can increase awareness of the refugee crisis)