Ai Weiwei brings grand piano to refugee field
IDOMENI, Greece - Agence France-Presse
Ai Weiwei (R) holds a rain cover to protect a Syrian refugee woman from the rain, as she performs in a field, on a piano brought by the artist. REUTERS PhotoChinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei set up a white grand piano in a muddy, rain-drenched refugee camp on the Greek-Macedonian border March 12, allowing a young Syrian woman to tinkle the ivories for the first time in years.
Performing in the pouring rain under a plastic sheet held up by Ai and others, 24-year-old Nour Alkhzam, who is hoping to reach her husband in Germany, played for 20 minutes in a field at the Idomeni border camp, where 12,000 migrants and refugees are stuck in grim conditions.
“This is our attempt to create an opportunity for this lady,” Ai said at the end of the impromptu performance.
“She has been victimized by these wars. She has not had the chance to touch a piano in three years. She and her husband have been separated for one-and-a-half years.” He added that watching her play was “very touching.”
“It tells the world that art will overcome the war,” he said.
The stunt was the latest in a series of projects by Ai to shine a spotlight on the people caught up in Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War II.
“We want to reveal a new image of them, to relay possibility, art and imagination. This is the image that needs to be relayed to the world,” he said.
Ai, a thorn in the side of China’s Communist authorities, has repeatedly spoken out in support of refugees and denounced European politicians’ handling of the crisis.
Last month, he draped thousands of lifejackets discarded by migrants arriving in Greece around the columns of Berlin’s Konzerthaus concert hall.
And in January, the artist closed down an exhibition of his work in Copenhagen in protest after lawmakers passed a controversial bill allowing authorities to seize valuables from asylum seekers.