Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, known for his controversial and creative works has released a new photograph, wherein he recreated the image of the drowned Syrian toddler, Alan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a Turkish beach in September 2015.
Weiwei took the place of the three-year old boy in his recreation of the iconic photograph – that made headlines last year – to create awareness regarding the refugee crisis. The sympathy generated by the photograph and the back story of the Kurdi family, however, was short-lived with a number of countries turning their backs on asylum seekers.
Magazine worked with Weiwei on the shoot, which took place on the Greek island of Lesbos where the artist has a studio. He works on numerous projects related to the refugee crisis from Greece as well. The photograph was part of an exhibition at the Indian Art Fair, which was held in the capital New Delhi.
Weiwei and his team “actively helped in staging this photograph for us”, Rohit Chawla the photographer responsible for the shoot. “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.
Sandy Argus, co-owner of India Art Fair added, “It is an iconic image because it is very political, human and involves an incredibly important artist like Ai Weiwei. “The image is haunting and represents the whole immigration crisis and the hopelessness of the people who have tried to escape their pasts for a better future.”
Meanwhile, Gayatri Jayaraman, senior editor at the magazine also worked on the shoot and met with Weiwei on the island where she helped him assist people off refugee boats. “He is very warm and humble, but his very presence there in that situation as tired, cold, wet refugees arrived was colossal. And very political,” she said, comparing his presence at the time to that of a Mahatma Gandhi-like figure.