Lego Refuses to Sell Bricks to Dissident Artist
Ai Weiwei's supporters are sending him plenty
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2015 2:09 AM CDT
People look at some of the 175 portraits made from Lego pieces in the installation "Trace" during a preview of the art exhibit "@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz" in San Francisco last year.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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(Newser) – Lego's attempt to keep its products out of the hands of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has come down on it like a ton of bricks. After Ai announced in an Instagram post that the Danish company had refused to sell him Lego in bulk because they can't approve its use for "political works," there was a huge outcry on social media, and fans around the world offered to send him all the Lego he needs, reports the Guardian. The bricks were to be used to create 175 portraits of political dissidents for an installation in Australia similar to one that he produced for an exhibit at the Alcatraz prison last year, the BBC reports.

A Lego spokesperson tells Mashable that while the company respects "any individuals' right to free creative expression," it does not endorse its use in any political context and will "kindly decline" orders "where we are made aware" such a context exists. Ai accuses the company of "censorship and discrimination" and has suggested the company's refusal to sell him Lego in bulk is linked to the announcement last week that a new Legoland theme park is to open in Shanghai, the BBC notes. In another Instagram post, the artist announced that he's "creating a new work to defend freedom of speech and 'political art'" that will involve "Lego collection points in different cities." (He got his passport back from Chinese authorities in July, four years after it was confiscated.)