David Burlak – Sunday, 20th September 2015.
Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor at the St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, walk in solidarity of refugees co. the artists ® London Art Reviews
The walk in solidarity with refugees by Anish Kapoor and Ai Weiwei has hit London, last Thursday, 17th September.
As Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor have highlighted, the walk has involved not just London, because the problems of solidarity and of the refugees are global.
As many participants, both Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor were holding blankets which were donated to the Refugee Council at the end of the London walk, as a sign of solidarity to those who are escaping brutality.
The walk started from the Royal Academy of Arts, where Ai Weiwei is hosting his current exhibition. It was about 8 mile long and passed through iconic London sites to terminate in Stratford, at the 2012 Olympic Park – where the sculpture of Kapoor ‘ArcelorMittal Orbit’ is located.
The complete route was the following: Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Victoria Embankment, Temple Place, Fleet Street, St Paul’s Cathedral, Bank, Old Broad Street, Bishopsgate, Fournier Street, Brick Lane, Whitechapel Road, Mile End Road and Stratford.
Anish Kapoor said: “We walk in solidarity with those hundreds of thousands across the world. It is a walk in sympathy and empathy.”
The Chinese dissident artist and the British-Indian sculptor have appealed for a humane, rather than political, response to the current situation. This year, the number of refugees in the world reached a record 60 million, according to the UNHCR- the United Nations refugee agency.
Being friend in real life, both the artists have united after difficult periods. Since years, Ai Weiwei is under the strong repression of the Chinese government. Last July, with an excuse the Chinese immigration office initially denied to him a six-month visa to enter Britain. In 2011, he has been convicted for 81 days and then released without charges.
For Anish Kapoor, instead, problems are coming from his sculpture ‘Dirty Corner’ at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris. Kapoor, who has Jewish origins, has seen his work vandalised twice in three months with anti- Semitic insult.
Often described as China’s most high-profile artist, Ai Weiwei said: “I think we can do a lot, if we open our heart, if we understand philosophically what refugee is about. We all are refugees as humans in some moment in the history. So we should understand this matter more profoundly, rather than just seeing them as a negative situation.”
The walk follows last week press meeting, where Ai Weiwei has requested to British government to do more to help refugees, while admiring Germany for its much civilised response to the crisis. He was speaking at a news conference on 11 September to mark the opening of his new exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Art.
The London walk event was much participated and it sparkled curiosity to the people on the street. Small traffic jams at the crossroads were reported.
Solidarity walk for refugees by artists Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor happened in London, from Royal Academy of Arts (Piccadilly) to the Olympic Park (Stratford), on 17th September 2015.