After Lego Spurns Ai Weiwei, National Gallery of Victoria Will Collect Bricks for the Artist

A Lego castle.

A Lego castle.


Finally, a purpose for all that Lego you have got lying around.

Today Ai Weiwei announced that the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, will serve as the first in a series of international Lego collection points for his latest art project. Ai’s announcement comes following Lego’s refusal to supply him with their product on the grounds that his work contained “political” statements.

Ai’s original intention for the new project—which will sit alongside 120 of his other works as part of the NGV exhibition “Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei,” opening this December—was to create, among other sculptures, a Lego-rendered re-creation of his famed triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn.

In light of Lego’s rejection, though, Ai has since taken the project in a different direction. As a post on his Instagram said yesterday, “In response to Lego’s refusal and the overwhelming public response, Ai has now decided to make a new work to defend freedom of speech and ‘political art.’ “

To that end, this Thursday a red BMW sedan will be parked in the sculpture garden of the National Gallery of Victoria where participants will be able to donate their Lego blocks via the vehicle’s sunroof. According to the NGV director Tony Ellwood, the response has already been overwhelming.

“We have received many offers of donations of Lego in the past days,” Ellwood said. “People have shown their generosity, creative spirit and enthusiasm to become engaged in this project, and we are pleased to be the first international collection point. The project began by celebrating those who stand for human rights and freedom of speech, and has inspired a groundswell of support that has developed into this inspiring project which has engaged the wider community.”

Ai’s studio will continue announcing details for more international collection points. The next of these, according to press statement, will be the Royal Academy in London.

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