A second hand car has found new life as a LEGO collection point for the determined Chinese artist.
There’s a new addition to the National Gallery of Victoria’s sculpture garden, but unlike the other installations that reside behind the NGV it’s not there for its aesthetical merits. The white 1989 BMW sedan has taken its place outside the Melbourne gallery as both a statement of protest against cultural censorship, and as a handy collection point for receiving donations of LEGO.
The fate of the second-hand vehicle was set in motion last Friday, when the Dutch manufacturers of the popular LEGO bricks refused to honour a major order from the NGV for the upcoming exhibition by the celebrated Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Intended to be used to create portraits of Australian human rights campaigners, LEGO declined to send the requested bricks on “political grounds.”
After Ai Weiwei shared the snub with his social media followers in instagram many fans of the popular artist offered donations of their own LEGO supplies to meet the shortfall. The campaign to supply the artist with LEGO picked up significant traction online, with the hashtag #legosforaiweiwei trending on Twitter, drawing the attention of art lovers all over the world. NGV have confirmed that they have been able to source the required materials for the planned LEGO installation which is part of the upcoming Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibition (although a different brand or material to LEGO is expected to be used), however after the gallery was inundated with international LEGO offerings, contemporary curator Max Delany in conjunction with Ai Weiwei’s studio have decided to accept those donations to create a new installation.
The car now installed in the NGV’s sculpture garden has seen a steady stream of the plastic bricks since it’s windows were rolled down and sunroof opened yesterday. Described by Delany as developing “spontaneously and at great speed online” the eventual use of the donated LEGO is yet to be decided and may not necessarily be exhibited at the Melbourne gallery. However as a live and evolving installation, the defiant spirit of the LEGO collection car shares an ideal synergy with the work of Ai Weiwei, who has used his art to champion freedom of speech within his native China.