“The border is not in Lesbos, it really [is] in our minds and in our hearts ,” Ai said.
In addition to this stop, the 58-year-old Ai told Associated Press he expected to visit Lesbos several times over the next year, or even beyond, if the crisis persisted beyond 2016. He said about six to 10 of his students in China and Germany would be working at the studio.
Ai praised the people of Lesbos for having a “very good understanding” of the refugees’ plight,their needs and for being “very helpful and very tolerant”, but emphasised they had limited resources to deal with the issue.
Ai reportedly told media that some of the projects will be public works, adding that they will aim especially to honour the lives of refugees who have died.
“I think that good art only comes out from when we have strong beliefs in aesthetics and human dignity. This can never be separated,” he told the Associated Press.
Ai used social media to document his trip to the Greek island
“As an artist, I have to relate to humanity’s struggles… I never separate these situations from my art,” he said. The artist is as well-known for his clashes with the Chinese authorities as for his work.
He praised the impressive work of several foreign non-governmental organisations, notably in the Netherlands, Norway and Spain. He added that there was a lack of awareness of the situation in Europe and the rest of the world and a willingness to act.
The island has been the main point of entry into the EU for hundreds of thousands of refugees over the past year and the studio would produce several projects with themes related to the refugee crisis from him and his students, Ai told reporters.
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