Ai Weiwei: Soleil Levant

Installation on the facade towards Nyhavn

20 jun – 1 oct 2017 Indvielse: 20 jun 2017 16:00

The opening of Ai Weiwei’s (b. 1957 in Beijing, China) new installation, produced specifically for Kunsthal Charlottenborg and Copenhagen, will take place on United Nations International Refugee Day (June 20 2017). Named Soleil Levant, the installation barricades the windows of Kunsthal Charlottenborg with more than 3500 salvaged life jackets collected from refugees arriving at the Greek Island of Lesbos.

Focus on the humanitarian crisis
With this installation, Ai Weiwei hopes to bring focus to the refugee crisis currently taking place across Europe. According to UNHCR, 1,377,349 individuals arrived in Europe via sea in 2015 and 2016. In the same period, over 8000 individuals have died or disappeared attempting this journey. It is the wide-spread humanitarian crisis, which Ai Weiwei aims to bring focus on.

The name of the work stems from Claude Monet’s painting Impression, Soleil Levant from 1872, which depicts the harbour in Le Havre at the end of the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian war. Whereas Monet’s landscape painting captures the political and social reality of its time with its cranes, steamboats and industrialisation, Ai Weiwei’s Soleil Levant draws attention to the political and social reality of today through refugee lifejackets.

World-renowned artist and activist
Ai Weiwei is one of the most respected living artists in the world today. His work – across sculpture, architecture, installations, music, photography and film – always challenge and encourage critical debate. He has previously exhibited at ARoS, Louisiana and Arken in Denmark, where his works are also part of the museums’ permanent collections.

In 2011, Ai Weiwei was detained in China for 81 days without charges and had his passport confiscated. He did not get his passport back from the government until 2015. Since relocating to Berlin following the return of his passport, many of the artist’s latest works focus on the refugee crisis of present-day Europe.

The installation Soleil Levant for Kunsthal Charlottenborg officially opens on United Nations  World Refugee Day, (June 20) and will be on view at the facade of Kunsthal Charlottenborg until the October 1 2017. The project is curated by Luise Faurschou from ART 2030 and Michael Thouber from Kunsthal Charlottenborg.

ART 2030 connects art and the UN Global Goals
ART 2030 unites art as the key to open people’s hearts, minds and imagination for the world we want by 2030. ART 2030 is a movement of visionary artists and influencers in the art world, who are determined to reinstate the role for art in a bigger world context and make their contributions visible for sustainable Development.

The project is supported by The Obel Family Fund, Platform A/S and The Danish Arts Foundation.

Hashtag for social media: #awwcharlottenborg #aiweiwei #artforglobalgoals #ART2030

Inauguration and commemoration of World Refugee Day 2017
Ai Weiwei’s installation was officially inaugurated on World Refugee Day, June 20 2017, and in connection with the inauguration we held an event with talks, food and music commemorating World Refugee Day. Read more about the event and see photos from it HERE. See also our video of the talks given by among others former head UN’s general assembly Mogens Lykketoft, Secretary General for relief organization Red Barnet Jonas Lindholm, spokesperson for UNHCR in Denmark Elisabeth Arnsdorf Haslund, and Syrian refugee Rafat Al-hamoud, who has founded House of Humanity: Video of talks (Vimeo).