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Ai Weiwei covers Berlin landmark in 14,000 refugee life jackets

Ai Weiwei's latest installation has 14,000 life vests tied to the columns of a Berlin concert house.

Story highlights

  • Renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei unveils his latest installation in Berlin
  • He has covered a Berlin concert hall with thousands of discarded life jackets

(CNN)Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has covered a Berlin landmark with thousands of refugee life jackets for his latest installation.

The striking display is the activist's latest attempt to highlight the scale of migrants taking to the seas every day.
    Ai's team began wrapping 14,000 discarded life vests around the pillars of the city's Konzerthaus venue overnight.

    Gendarmenmarkt Berlin

    A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

    The bright orange vests arrived in Germany from Lesbos -- a Greek island that has become a gateway for refugees into Europe. Authorities from Lesbos said they had provided Ai with the now-unwanted jackets.
    Ai has repeatedly visited Lesbos in the last year, where he spent a lot of time documenting the perilous journey migrants undertake through his Instagram account.

    A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

    In 2015, over 1 million migrants arrived in Europe by sea routes. Since January, more than 400 have perished while trying to make treacherous sea crossings, according to the International Organization for Migration.
    China's most famous dissident artist has been a vocal critic of Europe's response to the refugee crisis in recent months.
    The 58-year-old made headlines two weeks ago when an image emerged of Ai posing as Alan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian refugee toddler who drowned off a Turkish beach.
    "It's an idea that came quite spontaneously," Ai told CNN of the concept behind the black and white photo.
    "The photographer and journalist asked me to pose for a photo near the beach (in Lesbos) and to close my eyes. We had talked about the image of the boy, so I had that on my mind."
    Additionally, just days before, Ai announced he had closed his Copenhagen "Ruptures" exhibition in protest at Denmark's controversial new law empowering authorities to seize valuables from asylum seekers.