Ai Weiwei drifting – art, awareness and the refugee crisis | DW Documentary

Exiled in Europe, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has made the refugee crisis central to his work. We accompanied him behind the scenes of his latest film ‘Human Flow’.

Ai Weiwei: Is he only an uncomfortable critic or one of the most brilliant artists of our time? Subject to government surveillance, detention and house arrest in China he moved to Berlin in 2015. Now he’s taking Europe to task, protesting against, and devoting his work, to what he sees as its catastrophic refugee policies. A DW film team has been following him around the world for more than a year.

A lonely rubber boat is drifting in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece. In it, Ai Weiwei. He cannot swim. Is this performance art? “We are all refugees,” he says. Ai Weiwei displays his solidarity with the refugees and goes to meet them in Greece, Turkey and Gaza, producing a major documentary on the way.

Check out our web special on the film:

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Comment (60)

  1. Huma Flow is a piece of propaganda with an emphasis on children suffering, for effect. Reprehensible, amoral, lacking data and at times even deceitful. If you think manipulation is an acceptable tool to implement change, then maybe you should be imprisoned again, Weiwei.

  2. An overrated narcissist. Africans can tell their own stories. We live through horrific situations and no one listens to our narratives through enforces silence by the mainstream media. He should honestly and with integrity deal with China. Too much ego! Away with Ai Weiwei!

  3. 23:43 Wow! The factory that makes Ai Weiwei's boat for his art installation also makes the real boats, thousands of them!
    27:30 Ai Weiwei’s mother: “I wanted him to be where he can live in freedom.”
    Ai Weiwei: “Yes, in freedom.”
    Ai’s mother: “But it is good that he still has a Chinese passport so he can return because I’m still here. What you do after I’m gone is up to you. But as long as I’m alive, you need to come back.”
    Ai: “Yes, who can stop us, right?!”
    33:59 If my memory serves me, I think I've seen a picture of this group of girls on Weiwei's Instagram. #beautifulbehindthescene
    35:24 We are not much different from each others judging by what we wear.
    41:13 "The old man and the sea."
    Thanks Weiwei for trying to make art that matters. Thanks to the filmmaker of this short doc for making a great film!

  4. West pictures him as a hero, but he could be very mean. I see some video he rudely pushed and shuffled people. He is very violent sometimes. He maybe talent but he is cunning. Don't be fooled by his speech and noble goal.

  5. I guess the people best suited to tackle the refugee problem at the root are too busy to find the root of this problem. "It's like the end of the world" . . . It is the end of their world.

  6. Is this film a confirmation of the on-going narrative that all the migrants are innocent women and children that are going to add huge value to wherever they settle or is it a balanced account showing both sides of the story.

  7. One is supposed to be martyred and die fighting for a righteous cause. In today's society, they get rich and famous so-called "fighting" for causes. So Wei Wei and the Dalai Lama turn my stomach.

  8. I was wondering if anybody knows if there has been any documentary made from the perspective of European people who have been attacked, raped, robbed, murdered due to the refugee crisis? There may be about a dozen films now about the plight of refugees so I was thinking it might be fair to show the other side of the coin. Or is it always right-wing or fascist to believe that other victims deserve noticing? How does the liberal mindset justify this?

  9. Truly amazing how he made such an amazing story and artwork out of the current refugee crisis in Europe. Defenently someone who belongs in the hall of fame.

  10. The answer to the art's message is sustainable development of/in Africa by the productivity from HEMP his platform with film is detrimental in bridging nonexistence of sustainable growth in modern societies and proving the answer.

  11. Great artist Ai Weiwei, and great documentary. Best wishes to everyone who fights to get a better world. Peace, love, and HHRR from Madrid !!

  12. Excellent work and art and advocacy done by Artist Ai Weiwei. Well documented short film which is based on for what Refugees and immigrants have been going through. I love it and enjoyed watching it. Many thanks to Artist Ai Weiwei and his team, his backers, family and the DW TV.


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