Ai Weiwei to Set Up Collection Points For Lego Donations

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will set up collection points for donations of Lego, after the Danish toy maker refused to sell him a bulk order of the small plastic bricks that he was intending to use for his next show.

The artist posted a photo and message on his Instagram account on Monday morning that said, "Ai Weiwei has...decided to make a new work to defend freedom of speech and 'political art'. Ai Weiwei Studio will announce the project description and Lego collection points in different cities. This is the first phase of the coming projects."

The artist also tweeted a mailing address where bricks can be sent to.

Since the new broke, people from across the world have been contacting Weiwei on social media with offers to donate their own Lego for his project.

On Saturday, Weiwei had posted a message on his Instagram account, revealing that Lego had refused the request for a bulk order of bricks, saying that the company had told him that "they cannot approve the use of Legos for political works." In response, the artist called the company's refusal "an act of censorship and discrimination," and in the same post pointed out that it was recently revealed that there are new plans to build a Legoland theme park in Shanghai.

Weiwei intended to use the bricks to create portraits of jailed or exiled international figures for an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne that will open in December, the BBC reports. Last year, the artist had used Lego bricks for a similar exhibition in the U.S. for which he created 175 portraits of politically active figures, including Nelson Mandela and Edward Snowden.

In an email to the Guardian newspaper, Lego confirmed that the order had been rejected on the grounds of political activism. "Any individual person can naturally purchase or get access to Lego bricks in other ways to create their Lego projects if they desire to do so, but as a company, we choose to refrain from engaging in these activities—through for example bulk purchase," Lego spokesman Roar Rude Trangbæk said.

"In cases where we receive requests for donations or support for projects—such as the possibility of purchasing Lego bricks in large quantities—where we are made aware that there is a political context, we therefore kindly decline support."

Weiwei is a free-speech and human rights activist and was recently placed second in ArtReview magazine's "Power 100" list.

Ai Weiwei to Set Up Collection Points For Lego Donations | Culture