Florence’s historic Palazzo Strozzi plays host to the first major Italian show dedicated to one of today’s most celebrated and controversial artists, Ai Weiwei. The exhibition, titled ‘Libero’ (‘Free’), offers monumental installations, videos, photos, sculptures and objects symbolic of his career, epitomising his strong political and social impact. The most captivating work on view is ‘Reframe’, an installation of 22 rubber boats presented on the palace’s façade.

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The large orange life rafts are anchored to the renaissance palace’s windows, aiming to draw attention to the fate of refugees who risk their lives daily to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean. The lightweight boats mimic the fragile structures in which refugees are forced to cling to, and serve as a criticism of the handling of the refugee crisis.

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The installation is drawn from Ai Weiwei’s personal involvement in, and commitment to, the humanitarian crisis as an activist, and represents a opportunity for the city of Florence to raise awareness of the issue through art and culture. Libero is on now until January 22.

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