Art over war
CHINESE dissident artist Ai Wei wei setup a white grand piano in a muddy, rain- drenched refugee camp on the Greek-Macedonian border last Saturday, allowing a young Syrian woman to tinkle the ivories for the firsttime in years.
Performing in the pouring rain under a plastic sheet held up by Ai and others, 24- year- old N our Alkhzam, who is hoping to reach her husband in Germany, played for 20 minutes in a field atthe Idomeni border camp, where 12,000 migrants and refugees are stuck in grim conditions.
“This is our attemptto create an opportunity for this lady,” Ai said atthe end of the impromptu performance.
“She has been victimised by these wars. She has not had the chance to touch a piano in three years. She and her husband have been separated for one- and- a- half years.”
He added that watching her play was “very touching”.
“It tells the world that art will overcome the war,” he told reporters.
The stunt was the latest in a series of projects by Ai to shine a spotlight on the people caughtup in Europe’ s worst migrant crisis since WWII.
“We want to reveal a new image of them, to relay possibility, artand imagination. This is the image that needs to be relayed to the world,” he said.
Greek authorities estimate that 12,000 people are stuck atthe camp at Idomeni, but thousands more are camped out in fields nearby, waiting in vain for the border to reopen so they can continue their journey north. Macedonia and several other countries on the migrant trail have sealed their borders over recent weeks, leaving the Greek governmentt o struggle with a huge bottleneck of people stuck on its territory and forced to camp in increasing squalor.
Ai, a thorn in the side of China’s Communist authorities, has repeatedly spoken out in support of refugees and denounced European politicians’ handling of the crisis.
Lastmonth, he draped thousands of lifejackets discarded by migrants arriving in Greece around the columns of Berlin’s Konzerthaus concert hall.
And in January, the artist closed down an exhibition of his work in Copenhagen in protest after lawmakers passed a controversial bill allowing authorities to seize valuables from asylum seekers.
Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei ( right) protects himself and others from the rain, as nour Al Khizam ( centre) from the city Deirez Zor, syria, plays the piano during a performance at a refugee camp, at the border of Greece and Macedonia.