Ai Weiwei’s Laundromat

Yesterday I visited, The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei Exhibition in Qatar — who was once a refugee himself — filled the exhibition space with meticulously arranged garments, shoes and personal effects that he acquired from refugee camps housing Syrian immigrants at the town of Idomeni near the border of Greece.


As part of Ai Weiwei recently released documentary Human Flow, Ai Weiwei has borne witness to the brutal plight of refugees worldwide. Therefore when the Idomeni camp was shut down in May 2016, and the thousands of refugees were displaced. Ai Weiwei and his team reverently collected, washed and organized the possessions they haphazardly left behind in an effort to preserve their tumultuous experience.

Ai Weiwei monumental work brings together thousands of articles of clothing collected from a makeshift refugee camp in Idomeni – a small village in northern Greece and official border crossing to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The camp was shut down in May 2016 and the refugees that had been living there were evacuated, leaving their possessions behind.

Ai Weiwei show the large-scale installation, Laundromat (2016), which is made from thousands of articles of clothing that were left behind after a refugee camp in Idomeni, a small village in northern Greece, was shut down in 2016

The exhibition brings together thousands of materials collected from an informal refugee camp in idomeni — a small village in northern Greece and official border crossing into the Republic of Macedonia. At its peak in spring 2016, up to 15,000 men, women and children — mostly from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq — spent weeks in dire conditions with scarce food and harrowing sanitary conditions. In May 2016, idomeni was shut down, displacing the thousands of refugees living there. In a rush to mobilize, many left behind clothes, shoes, personal mementoes and photographs. Ai Weiwei has collected, washed, organized and now exhibited these objects in New York as a poignant and powerful testament to a human condition at a tumultuous moment in time. Through his work, he has become one of the most important advocates of human rights.

My reader can also search Ai Weiwei on YouTube and Google to know more detail about his work. Also a Documentary film ( about Refugees on their way to Western Europe in 2016. Idomeni was the informal crossing point through which hundreds of thousands of refugees entered Macedonia in 2015. Refugees started camping there when the Macedonian government began shutting the border to certain nationalities last November. Once the border shut entirely in March, the site became a full-scale camp and an emblem of Europe’s failure to manage the refugee crisis.

Ai Weiwei captured the everyday conditions of the refugees up to the moment when the camp was evacuated, and 17,062 Photos Relating to Refugees – a wallpaper which consists of a selection of images taken by Ai Weiwei on his iPhone during the filming of his documentary feature “Human Flow.”

His show in Doha highlights Qatar’s development as a creative and artistic hub that encourages dialogue through artistic expression.




  1. Stunningly powerful. I saw an exhibition of his work in London at the Royal Academy a few years ago and it was very moving. He had the boxes that were semi miniatures of his prison rooms in China. This exhibit that you show us here brings the plight of these refugees/migrants to life.


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