Lego refuses to send bricks to Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei

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From what I gather, people around the world are already sending their Legos to Ai Weiwei.


I’m sure any number of the lego clones/“other brick manufacturers” out there would love to sell bulk quantities of their product, they’re out there:

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I’m sure in China he can get a much LEGOlike blocks as anyone would otherwise not want but have no choice but use.

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Likewise, there are countless places to buy LEGO, and probably a few that can handle big orders.

Oh, good lord. They have a right to protect their brand. What if the KKK wanted to buy in bulk, so they could make giant burning lego crosses? Either you pick and choose, in which case you’re going to be seen as a hypocrite, or you just decide not to go down that path at all. They decided to do the latter, and that’s their right.


I wonder if this is because China is one of the few places that gave a damn when Lego was trying to keep people out of it’s market? From the link above it seems to be among the few victories Lego has.

btw Mega Bloks suck balls. I wouldn’t make a toilet out of them if it were the only toilet allowed to exist


Geeze, that puts a whole new spin on hemorrhoid flare-ups…


That seems like an improvement from an actual flaming cross, but yours is a point well made regardless.

I came here to suggest this. Lego is free to refuse a sale and Ai Weiwei is free to buy his supplies elsewhere. I’m curious if boingboing has ever refused to sell ad space because they don’t want to be associated with the politics of the advertiser.


I guess they shut this down, what with the blatant use of their trademarks and such LoL.

Free Expression? Nee!

the Catholic Church? Ja! Ja!

I’m curious if boingboing has ever refused to sell ad space because they don’t want to be associated with the politics of the advertiser.

I got them to (or at least I think I got them to) drop an advertiser that when you followed the links to the end, they were selling a magic cancer cure. I ratted them out to Cory and that ad went away.

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Lego isn’t shutting down anyone, and your example is not a double standard. Artists such as Ai Weiwei and enthusiasts like the priest you linked to are (and always have been) free to buy and use bricks just like everyone else, and just like the rest of us they have to buy the bricks the same way you and I have to buy them - through regular channels, not the special channels that Ai Weiwei wants to use. And like the priest has done, they have to play by the same rules as you or I when it comes to using company logos, etc.

In addition to that, "AFOL"s like the priest in your link have their own supply networks that are in many ways more powerful than what Lego special channels could offer anyway (“Bricklink” for example; Lego can’t sell you their older or discontinued parts (or parts in certain colours) because they don’t have stock - the only brick stock they can supply is what they manufacture. But Bricklink can supply pretty much any part ever made, in any color it was ever made in, and usually in bulk too). So enthusiasts like the priest generally neither need nor use (nor have access to) special channels to create those giant models.

It’s a molehill. There’s no mountain.

(Also, models of famous and/or grand buildings/architecture/monuments are a very common and accepted theme for Lego enthusiasts, so there is a long history of solid experience indicating that it won’t be seen as political when someone makes a model of Big Ben, or a model of a castle, or a model of the Whitehouse, or a model of a church, etc. For example, even the article you choose seems to demonstrate this - the article seems to be a completely non-political reaction to a Lego model; it just talks about an impressive model a guy made that took a huge long time and a huge lot of bricks)


It would melt, and emit toxic fumes.

I seem to recall Doug Coupland using lots of Lego in his recent show, and as you can see from this page, the word Lego is everywhere.

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What the nuts? Isn’t there an Ai Weiwei piece on display at Alcatraz RIGHT NOW that’s made out of LEGO?

There IS!


Could this have anything to do with the recent reported potential for a Lego brick shortage this holiday season? Oh, and they’re opening a factory in China to be operational by 2017. I’m sure that’s unrelated.


I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Lego is shutting anybody down, we’re just picking on them for their stance in this instance.

For another, it is a double-standard based on the selective nature Lego makes the choice, for there are no non-political statements to be made and Lego does allow it’s trademark to be used selectively, as is their right, in art that makes political statements, as they claim they will not.

Lastly, it’s just a medium, particularly in respect to projects like Ai Weiwei’s and most any other, so the “WTF LEGO?” measure is made, just as it would be if a pencil maker refused to sell you any because you might write something political with it. Do you sell pencils or not?

And in parting to any who think it’s in any way clever to say “Lego is free to refuse service etc etc”, let me help you along by saying “durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, ya think?”. You got a high bar for criticism, bro. Mine’s lower. Hangs lower anyway.

I think that exhibit closed earlier this year. But I hope more people click your link: that portion of the exhibit consisted of plastic brick pixel-portraits of political prisoners around the world, linked with brief stories about their incarceration, and postcards, on which visitors were encouraged to write messages to the prisoners. I wonder if he’s doing the same exhibit in Australia now. I’d guess prob’ly not, since it might not be quite as resonant on the floor of a museum, as it was in a prison.

I was thinking maybe the exhibit organizers ordered the LEGO, without much discussion about the nature of the exhibit, but I see from pics at your link that many of the portraits were assembled at Ai’s studio. Maybe LEGO corp wasn’t yet embroiled in Shanghai LEGOland negotiations???

Another portion of the Alcatraz exhibit included delicate porcelain flower sculptures filling a toilet in the prison infirmary. I enjoy how that’s echoed in Ai’s Instagram “R.Mutt” pic embedded above.

From what I’ve understood Lego began this “no political work” policy after a Polish artist they supplied materials to built a Lego concentration camp in the mid 90’s.