Ai Weiwei, the Chinese dissident artist has shut down an exhibition in Denmark in protest of plans by the Danish Government to confiscate asylum seekers’ valuables, in order to pay for their welfare and upkeep. Workers at the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen have confirmed the exhibition closed yesterday.
Under new measures, Danish police will be able to seize valuables worth more than 10,000 kroner (1,340 euros; £1,000) from refugees to cover housing and food costs. The proposal was voted for and backed by the Danish parliament on Tuesday. MPs also passed new plans which will delay family reunions for asylum seekers. Denmark received more than 21,000 asylum seekers in 2015.
Mr Ai’s exhibition titled Ruptures opened in March 2015 and was to officially end in April 2016. Gallerist Jens Faurschou, showed his support for the artist’s plans and backed his decision. He stated his own personal disappointment at the government’s decision. “It’s making a picture of Denmark and the Danes as a terrible country. As a Danish passport holder, which I always have been happy to be, I am not happy today.” Mr Faurschou stated Mr Ai was “shocked” when he called him on Wednesday morning from Lesbos after spending the night reading the news. “When he lived in China, he pointed to the problems there. Now he lives in Europe, he points to the problems here. He has a global voice,” he said.
Mr Ai opened a studio on the Greek island of Lesbos,in early January in order to ‘raise consciousness’ about the plight of refugees through art. The studio is staffed by his students from China and Germany. The projects carry themes related to the refugee crisis.
The Danish government has said that items of sentimental value, such as wedding rings, will be exempt. It also raised the amount refugees will be allowed to keep from 3,000 kroner to 10,000 following objections.would not face the kind of searches proposed under the new law.
The new law for refugees having their possessions seized has drawn comparisons to the confiscation of valuables from Jews during World War Two. Amnesty International regional director John Dalhuisen described the vote as “mean spirited”. The migrants’ assets law adopted by Denmark has been widely criticised by human rights groups and by the UN.