Ai Weiwei has cancelled two shows in Denmark in protest against the country's new law that allows police to seize cash and valuables from asylum seekers entering the country. The bill will also delay family reunions for some refugees for at least three years.
The exhibition Ruptures opened at the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen last March and was due to run until 15 April. But today (27 January), Ai announced he was pulling the show on his official Instagram and Facebook accounts. “This decision follows the Danish parliament’s approval of the law proposal that allows seizing valuables and delaying family reunions for asylum seekers,” the Chinese dissident artist wrote.
Jens Faurschou, the Danish collector and owner of the foundation, which has an outpost in Beijing, is said to support Ai’s decision. “Jens Faurschou backs the artist’s decision and regrets that the Danish parliament chooses to be in the forefront of symbolic and inhuman politics of today’s biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe and the Middle East, instead of being in the forefront of a respectful European solution to solve the acute humanitarian crisis,” Ai wrote on his Instagram account.
According to the Danish paper, The Local, Ai is also withdrawing from an exhibition at the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum. The group show, A New Dynasty. Created In China, opened in November and is due to close on 22 May.
Ai shared a letter he sent to the museum on social media, saying: “I am very shocked about yesterday's [Tuesday’s] news that the Danish government has decided to seize refugees' private property. As a result of this regrettable decision, I must withdraw from your exhibition… to express my protest of the Danish government's decision. Please accept my regrets and thank you for your long-term support. I apologize for the inconvenience caused.”
Under the new law, police will be allowed to search asylum seekers arriving in Denmark and confiscate any non-essential items worth more than 10,000 kroner (£1,000) that have no sentimental value to their owner. The centre-right Danish government says the procedure is intended to pay for the upkeep of refugees. The bill has been roundly condemned by human rights groups.