Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei may have the last laugh following Lego’s refusal to provide supplies for his upcoming installation, thanks to the trending hashtag #LegosForWeiwei that calls for the wider public to instead donate the firm’s signature toy bricks.
On Sunday, Ai posted on his Instagram account that his studio began designing artworks that required a large quantity of Legos. The post also quoted Lego’s alleged refusal to supply a bulk order of the bricks. The works were intended for display at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne as part of an exhibition referred to as “Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei.”
“Lego’s refusal to sell its product to the artist is an act of censorship and discrimination,” Ai said in the post.
An earlier post that quoted the toy company saying it “cannot approve the use of Legos for political works” is no longer on the artist’s Instagram account.
Ai has since said that he will do his best to find a way to accept the donations from the public.
Many are suspicious that Lego is trying to defend its corporate interests in China, especially since a U.K. company, Merlin Entertainments, announced on Oct. 21 that it would open a Legoland amusement park in Shanghai as part of the multibillion-dollar trade deal negotiated between the U.K. and China during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s October state visit to the country.
“We refrain, on a global level, from actively engaging in or endorsing the use of Lego bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda. This principle is not new from the Lego Group,” Troy Taylor, the head of Australian marketing for Lego, told ABC.