Lego changes policy after Ai Weiwei backlash

Chinese artist describes U-turn as “victory for freedom of speech”


Lego has changed its policy on bulk orders after Ai Weiwei denounced the company for “censorship and discrimination” last October. The Danish toymaker declined to supply the plastic bricks for politically-minded works planned by the Chinese artist-activist for his exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne. According to its new guidelines, effective from 1 January, “the Lego group no longer asks for the thematic purpose when selling large quantities of Lego bricks for projects.” The U-turn represents a “small victory for freedom of speech,” Ai told the BBC.

Meanwhile, Ai has been mobilising his huge international following on social media to crowdsource Lego bricks for a new work “to defend the freedom of speech and political art”. Starting with his Beijing studio and the NGV, he has parked a series of “collection points”—18 second-hand BMWs—in far-flung locations from the Helsinki Art Museum to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

The NGV has announced that Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei is the gallery’s fastest-selling exhibition in more than a decade, attracting almost 95,000 visitors in its first month. The exhibition closes on 24 April.