If you look up the meaning of the term art, the dictionary says that it is paintings, drawings, and sculptures that are created to be beautiful or to express ideas. But if you search instead for many of nowadays visual arts performances, you will probably find that they are in a group called art activism, a term used to describe art that is grounded in the act of ‘doing’ and addresses political or social issues.
If you think about how many times in your life you could wear a lifejacket, the answer is probably never or just in the case where you are practicing certain types of aquatic sports, in any case pleasant situations. But if you ask the same question to a Syrian refugee the answer, which in a different world could be the same, will be that they had to use it when leaving their homes because of a civil war.
The image of one of these life vests in daily our lives could give us a new perspective on the meaning of this object thanks to the installations of Ai Weiwei. The author conveys a new use for it bringing life vests from the shores of Greek beaches and transporting them to the most important buildings in Europe. The author identified every person who wore these objects. Every one of these lifejackets represents a refugee who ran away from a devastating war.
The transforming of this everyday object into an installation is an attempt to draw our eyes and ears to the Syrian refugee crisis. It’s a piece of art, a way to avoid forgetting what society does during a specific period of time.
Is Ai Wei Wei works' art activism?
Pictures: @aiweiwei IG