Ai Weiwei closes exhibits to protest Danish move to seize refugee assets

By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Jan. 27, 2016 at 10:40 AM
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Protesting a decision by Denmark to seize assets of refugees to pay for their asylum, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei closed two of his exhibits.

The Danish parliament approved a proposal Tuesday that allows police to seize property valued at more than 10,000 kroner ($1,455), excluding items of sentimental value, from asylum seekers to pay for housing and other costs. The move puts refugees in line with Danish citizens, who must divest themselves of property to claim government benefits.

The parliamentary action has been condemned by the United Nations and a number of humanitarian organizations, and Wednesday Ai announced the closure, in protest, of two of his art exhibits in Denmark, at the ARoS Art Museum in Aarhus and at the gallery of the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen.

Ai, 58, is one of China's most prominent contemporary artists.

In a letter to ARoS, Ai explained, "I am very shocked about yesterday'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 'A New Dynasty - Created In China' to express my protest of the Danish government's decision."

He later announced the closure of the Faurschou exhibit, noting he had the support of gallery owner Jens Faurschou and saying, on Instagram, "Jens Faurschou backs the artist's decision and regrets that the Danish parliament chose 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."

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