Should corporate censorship end? If so, how

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This content was published on October 26, 2015 - 14:42 (Keystone-SDA)

He once exhibited a hundred million handcrafted porcelain sunflower seeds. Now Ai Weiwei wants to create a work of art out of Lego bricks. The company turned down the bulk order, but Lego fans are now emptying their drawers.

The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is able to implement his planned Lego project in Australia despite the Danish company's refusal to deliver building blocks. After an appeal for donations on the Internet, a sufficient number of stones were collected, said the 57-year-old on Monday at a press conference in Berlin.

"The internet is a bit like a modern church," he said. "They go to church and complain to the priest about their suffering, and everyone in the community can take part and maybe find a solution."

The artist wanted to recreate the portraits of 20 Australian civil rights activists in Lego for the "Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei" exhibition in Melbourne at the end of the year. The company had rejected the large order with reference to the political nature of the project.

"We refrain from actively promoting or supporting the use of Lego bricks for political projects worldwide. The principle is not new," the company said in a statement. On Instagram, Ai accused the company of "censorship" and "discrimination". During the press conference he said: "I was pretty exhausted because it was a very respectable assignment."

Three-year visiting professorship in Berlin

The artist, long outlawed in China, presented his concept for the three-year Einstein visiting professorship in Berlin, which he will take up at the end of the month at the University of the Arts. He was allowed to leave his country for the first time in August after a multi-year travel ban.

With the professorship, he was contractually committed to three years and wanted to keep that, he said. On the other hand, China remains his home country. "I'll drive back and forth - provided they let me in and out. I have no control over that," he said.

But he had already traveled back to Beijing once from Berlin and only came back a week ago. Ai does not want to address human rights issues in his degree program. "I teach art. Of course these questions are within me. But I don't want to put my students under pressure. Everyone has the right to decide on their own principles."

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