Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist known worldwide for his politically charged art installations, has long butted heads with his country’s government over its censorship policies and human-rights violations. Now, he’s facing resistance of a different kind. The Danish toy company Lego refused to send the artist its plastic bricks to use in a project for the National Gallery of Victoria, explaining that it “cannot approve the use of Legos for political works.”
In an Instagram post on Friday, Ai announced the company’s rejection of his request, and suggested that it’s related to the recently announced opening of a new Legoland in Shanghai. In subsequent posts, he blasted the company’s decision and questioned their ethics: “Lego’s refusal to sell its product to the artist is an act of censorship and discrimination,” he wrote. Commenters on his posts expressed disdain for Lego (“Will never see Lego the same way again after their decision,” said one), and others suggested that Ai’s supporters send him all the bricks he needs.
The idea took off: Offers from fans seeking to donate Legos to Ai have been pouring in on Twitter since, and the company is receiving backlash for inadvertently making a political statement in their refusal to sell to the artist.