The LEGO Group has increasingly been the subject of negative attention, particularly coming from the artistic community and its supporters. The current battle concerns Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, who took to Twitter and Instagram to inform his fans and followers that the Danish toy company refused his studio's request for a bulk order due to the political nature of his intended purpose for the bricks.
In June, Ai began designing artworks for a December 2015 exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, Australia titled "Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei," which focuses on freedom of speech. He informed the team at NGV that his exhibit will need a considerable number of LEGO bricks, which is what he intends to use as a medium.
However, when NGV contacted LEGO to place a bulk order, the company denied the gallery's request stating that it cannot support the use of its products for political purposes. When Ai's studio was informed of the sale refusal, the protest artist took to his Instagram to tell his followers about LEGO's "act of censorship and discrimination." "As a powerful corporation, Lego is an influential cultural and political actor in the globalized economy with questionable values" Ai said in his Instagram post.
Ai's followers also took to Twitter to express disappointment for the Danish toymaker and support for the artists with some even offering to donate their own LEGO sets in order to complete the project.
After the uproar on social media and many promises to donate, Weiwei tweeted that he will find a way to accept all the donations so he could push through with his art.
Yes, I will find a way to accept. https://t.co/S7vW7hw76s
— Ai WeiWei (english) (@aiww_en) October 25, 2015
He also posted a photo of a red car with a slightly opened sunroof and called it "The first Lego container," along with an address where it is parked.
A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on Oct 25, 2015 at 11:01pm PDT