Artist Ai Weiwei imitates famous photo of drowned Syrian child Alan Kurdi

NEW DELHI -- Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has recreated the famous image of drowned Syrian child Alan Kurdi by staging a photo of himself lying face down on a beach in Greece.

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The photo last year of the drowned boy lying on a Turkish beach triggered international outrage as people saw the helpless toddler as the devastating human face of the refugee crisis in Europe.

The three-year-old's aunt and uncle live in Canada.

Ai posed last week on a pebbly beach on Lesbos island for the picture for one of India's largest English-language news magazines, India Today.

Rohit Chawla, the magazine's photographer and visual director, travelled to Lesbos to take the picture.

The photograph was displayed at an art fair in New Delhi over the weekend and many visitors took pictures of it.

In addition to the international outrage it caused, Kurdi's death and the photo of the three-year-old on the beach had a special impact in Canada.

His death came during the country's federal election and -- when it was learned his family had pinpointed Canada as a potential place of refuge -- it turned refugee policy into a campaign issue, spurring debate on whether Canada was doing enough in the Syrian refugee crisis.

Tima Kurdi, the boy's aunt who lives in British Columbia, has said the original rejection of an application to bring the boy's uncle's family to Canada prompted Alan Kurdi's father, Abdullah, to lose hope he would be allowed into Canada and to instead try to cross to Greece from Turkey by water.

Abdullah lost his two sons and wife in the journey in September, and Tima Kurdi said later he was no longer interested in coming to Canada.

The boy's uncle, Mohammed, and his family came to Canada in December after applications for them to come to the country were approved.

Ai, the Chinese artist, is famous for works addressing human rights abuses, official corruption and the collision between Chinese culture and Western consumerism.

He has set up a studio on Lesbos where he is working on several projects with refugee-related themes. Lesbos is the main entry point for refugees seeking a better life in Europe.

Ai said last Thursday that he had decided to withdraw his works from two Danish museums out of anger at a new law allowing Denmark to seize valuables from migrants.


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