In the worst possible taste, Ai Weiwei reaches a personal low

opinion hl

We have, from time to time, reported on the activities of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. He is, of course, an iconoclast; the archetypal artist without walls who operates entirely on his own personal agenda and who does not seek the approval of anybody, least alone the Chinese government who he has actively combated for many years.

However, it now seems that his personal judgement can no longer be trusted. The photograph which has recently appeared of him posing as a shipwrecked hapless refugee dead on the beach on the Greek island of Lesbos represents a new low for the artist. It is in the worst possible taste and displays an inability to discern between acceptable art and degrading trash. In our view, an apology is called for.

ai weiwei lesbos

Photograph copyright Rohit Chawla reproduced for the purposes of review and criticism

The black and white image, taken by Indian photographer Rohit Chawla, shows the artist lying on pebbles on the beach, with his palms upturned in the same manner as Kurdi.

Ai and his team “actively helped in staging this photograph for us,” Mr Chawla said. “I am sure it wasn’t very comfortable to lie down on the pebbles like that. But the soft evening light fell on his face when he lay down,” he said.

Come off it!