Ai Weiwei is not alone: LEGO’s history of hiding from politics

Story highlights

Ai Weiwei's request to bulk order LEGO bricks for an upcoming art exhibition has been refused

LEGO refused to support the exhibition due to its political undertones

This isn't the first time LEGO has tried to avoid political situations with its blocks

CNN  — 

Ahead of an upcoming joint exhibition of Ai Weiwei and Andy Warhol’s work at the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia this December, Ai Weiwei has once again made headlines.

In an Instagram post on Saturday October 24, the Chinese artist and political activist wrote: “In September Lego refused Ai Weiwei Studio’s request for a bulk order of Legos to create artwork to be shown at the National Gallery of Victoria as ‘they cannot approve the use of Legos for political works’.”

More Instagram posts from the artist were seen throughout the weekend and his fans flooded social media with offers to donate LEGO bricks to help bring the project to life using the hashtag, #legoforaiweiwei.

This isn’t the first time Ai Weiwei has used LEGO in his art. His 2014 Trace exhibit on Alcatraz Island portrayed 176 people from 33 countries around the world who had either been imprisoned or exiled because of their beliefs or affiliations. The images were constructed out of the Danish toy pieces.

As reported by CNN Money, LEGO spokesperson Roar Rude Trangbaek declined to comment on Ai’s case, but said “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.”

Trangbaek added that the company denies “donations or support for projects – such as the possibility of purchasing Lego bricks in very large quantities, which is not possible through normal sales channels – where we are made aware that there is a political context.”

Trangbaek went on to reiterate today that they do not censor, prohibit or ban creative use of LEGO bricks, saying, “We acknowledge, that LEGO bricks today are used globally by millions of fans, adults, children and artists as a creative medium to express their imagination and creativity in many different ways. Projects that are not endorsed or supported by the LEGO Group.”

LEGO has backed away from politically sensitive situations in the past. See the gallery above for more.