The celebrity pilgrimages to migrant camps, so familiar in Calais, have now begun in Greece, with the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei visiting the Macedonian border yesterday.
“Thousands of people are stuck here,” Mr. Waiwai observed. “You can’t believe this is happening in Europe in the 21st century”, he exclaimed.
Mr. Weiwei managed to post no less than 13 videos to his Instagram account during his short stay, documenting his “humanitarian” visit to the village of Idomeni where 14,000 migrants are currently camped.
“I am also one of them, so I’m here today in Idomeni”, he told German photographer Daniel Biskup. Mr. Waiwai has been forced to flee China, after criticising the Communist government there.
“This is a very sad situation, because the door is closed, totally shut off. I think this is a huge, big violation of human rights, right in front of us”, he added, urging Europe embrace more mass migration.
— 艾未未 Ai Weiwei (@aiww) March 10, 2016
Speaking to Reuters, he claimed “…here nobody tells [the migrants] what to do, and they stay here, still having hope to go to Germany or some other location”.
The migrants in Idomeni are currently being told very clearly that they can get a free bus back to Athens, the Greek capital, where they will be sent on to the brand new registration centres that can comfortably house 50,000 people.
However, the majority are resistant to registering as they plan to break in to Macedonia and travel on to Northern Europe illegally.
Mr. Waiwai has been touring Greece and the Balkans for the past couple of months, creating “refugee art” and sharing hundreds of photos of his trip online. He even has a studio on a Greek island so he can enjoy the sun and watch the crisis unfold.
— David Beard (@dabeard) January 31, 2016
At the end of January he recreated the image of drowned Syrian child Alan Kurdi by lying face down on a beach, and in February, he covered a Berlin concert hall in bright orange life jackets (commonly warn by migrants crossing to Greece).
“As an artist, I have to relate to humanity’s struggles… I never separate these situations from my art”, he told Associated Press on new year’s day.
He has also mocked Denmark for describing themselves as the “world happiest nation” after they passed a law requiring rich migrants to pay for their own accommodation.
It has not been reported that Mr. Waiwai has distributed any of his massive personal wealth to migrants or taken any into his own home.