19 | SEP | 2019
Ai Weiwei creates Lego portraits of missing Ayotzinapa students
Ai Weiwei unveiled the Lego portraits of the 43 missing students - Photo: German Espinosa/EL UNIVERSAL

Ai Weiwei creates Lego portraits of missing Ayotzinapa students

Reuters y redacción
Mexico City
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This enforced disappearance case revealed the corruption, human rights violations, and impunity that plague Mexico

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei unveiled a new installation in Mexico, which tells the story of the 43 missing students in a case that exposed the government's incompetence, abuses, and impunity, a frequent theme for the dissident artist.

The installation features large portraits of the students made from a million multi-colored Legos that hover above a cavernous exhibit space, images that have become seared into the Mexican conscience by grieving family members who often carry posters with the same images at protests demanding answers for their sons’ disappearance.



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Entitled “Reestablishing Memories,” the work also features a timeline of the 2014 abduction of the trainee-teachers from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College in southern Mexico and the government’s widely disparaged investigation into the case.

“Why do we have to do it? Because every crime creates a vacuum and it poisons society,” Ai told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.

Known for his criticism of Communist China’s stifling of free expression, Ai said his latest project was partially inspired by the Chinese government’s refusal to explain its errors following a massive 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, in which thousands of students died in government-built schools.

“It reminded me of the Mexicans who lost their children,” he said, explaining how his own search for answers following the tragedy was obstructed.

An initial government investigation found that the Ayotzinapa students were abducted by corrupt police who handed them over to a local drug gang. The gang then allegedly killed them for reasons that remain unclear and burnt their bodies in a trash dump, discarding the ashes into a nearby river, it concluded.

But the account was tainted by allegations of torture and the possible involvement of soldiers.

To date, the remains of just one student have been identified.

Ai, who was detained by the Chinese government in 2011 and currently lives in Berlin, supervised the creation of the oversized Lego portraits by students from Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM).



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Last week, the new Mexican administration signed a cooperation agreement with the United Nations in order to solve the case.

“Reestablishing Memories,” which is paired with Ai’s earlier “Wang Family Ancestral Hall” installation, is now open at the MUAC museum, located on the UNAM campus in Mexico City, and will be on display through October.


Mexico and the UN will collaborate to solve the Ayotzinapa case

Michelle Bachelet said “no one should be subjected any longer to such agony”
Mexico and the UN will collaborate to solve the Ayotzinapa caseMexico and the UN will collaborate to solve the Ayotzinapa case


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