This article was first published in The Big Smoke on February 13, 2016.
Ai Weiwei is in the news again. Only this time, it is not for criticising the Chinese government; instead, turning his focus westward, to critique the European countries for their policies toward Syrian refugees.
In January, when the Danish government ruled in favour of seizing the assets of asylum seekers (mostly Syrian refugees) to pay for their resettlement, he closed down an ongoing exhibition in Copenhagen in protest. A week later, he posed on a Greek beach in reference to the drowned Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi.
As is common with Weiwei, the image quickly went viral on social media.
The photo marks a big shift in the life of Weiwei, an artist most known for his outspoken criticism of the communist government of China. Last August, he moved to Berlin with his family after more than 20 years in Beijing. The image marks his first strong political statement against his new home, and with it, shifts his somewhat cosy relationship with the West. He is on to us, and we are on to him.
Read more on The Big Smoke.