Artist goes big with his message

Ai Weiwei, a giant in the field of art, was dwarfed by his work titled Law of the Journey when it was unveiled for the Biennale of Sydney on Monday.

The 60m-long installation depicts about 300 oversized and faceless human figures crowded together in an inflatable raft, in a crushing comment on the global refugee crisis.

According to Reuters, the number of people forced from their homes - largely by violence and war - has reached a record 65 million.

And to drive the point home even further, Ai made the artwork from the same rubber used by the company that manufactures most of the boats that have carried refugees across the Mediterranean Sea.

Installed in a warehouse in Australia's Cockatoo Island, the installation will serve as the centrepiece of the biennale, which opens on Friday and runs until June 11.

Ai, a vocal campaigner on migration issues, said the location was appropriate because of Australia's controversial policy of detaining unauthorised boat arrivals in camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.

"Australia's refugee record is quite poor internationally," the artist said. "There is no excuse for any kind of policy (that) does not consider protecting basic human rights."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2018, with the headline 'Artist goes big with his message'. Print Edition | Subscribe