Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Recreates Drowned Refugee Child Picture from Greece

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Photograph by Rohit Chawla for India Today

Aylan Kurdi was the three-year-old child that drowned off the coast of the Greek island of Kos, in September 2015, along with his five-year-old brother Galip and their mother. The three people were on board an overcrowded dinghy fleeing the war in Syria. Only the father Abdullah survived, making it back to the shore.

The Kurdi family had fled their hometown of Kobane in the wake of an ISIS attack. Their story was one of the great tragedies that took place in 2015, while the photograph of Aylan’s lifeless body became a constant reminder of the refugee crisis’ impact on modern society.

Recognizing the photograph’s significance, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei attempted to recreate it. According to Washington Post, he closed his eyes and lay face down on a cold, pebbled beach imitating the lifeless body of the Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi.

That photograph of Ai captured by India Today magazine on the Greek island of Lesbos is now the toast of the India Art Fair at an exhibition called “The Artists” this weekend.

“It is an iconic image because it is very political, human and involves an incredibly important artist like Ai Weiwei,” said Sandy Angus, co-owner of India Art Fair. “The image is haunting and represents the whole immigration crisis and the hopelessness of the people who have tried to escape their pasts for a better future.”

The photograph will be published next week along with Ai’s interview in India Today.

A few months ago, the artist and activist had traveled to the Greek island of Lesvos in order to witness the refugee crisis unfold first hand. Weiwei, who is globally known for his artistry as well as his criticism of the Chinese regime, has been posting various pictures and videos of his experience in Lesvos on his Instagram account.