F. Lotus by Ai Weiwei highlights the refugee crisis with life jackets

18 July 2016

Ai Weiwei has created F. Lotus, an installation composed of 1,005 worn life jackets, as a centrepiece to his first major solo exhibition in Austria. The work aims to address the current refugee crisis by highlighting and demonstrating the sheer number of refugees trying to reach Europe, and follows a similar piece at the Konzerthaus in Berlin where he wrapped the building’s columns in 14,000 life jackets.

This latest installation is composed of 201 rings each comprising five jackets, which the artist says “float like lotus blossoms” on the pond at Upper Belvedere, part of The Belvedere Museum, Vienna. 

The translocation — transformation exhibition spans several locations of the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere and is themed around metamorphosis provoked by expulsion, migration and deliberate change of location undergone by people and objects. It also features Wang Family Ancestral Hall (2015), a Ming Dynasty temple made from 1,300 wooden pieces, reconstructed and displayed for the first time outside China in the 21er Haus gallery.

“Every translocation is followed by a process of reorientation, which is paralleled by an inner migration and transformation of identity,” curator Alfred Weidinger explains. “In his nomadic existence, Ai Weiwei is a social being, a zoon politikon, who cannot be detached from his local environment, his traditions and culture.”

translocation — transformation is on until 20 November. 

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Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, now overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on jb@itsnicethat.com.

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