Artist Ai Weiwei is taking Volkswagen to court for copyright infringement, after the company published a magazine advertisement for the car VW Polo in 2017 that featured one of his art installations as a backdrop.
Weiwei, a Chinese contemporary artist and activist, states the image was used without the artist’s or the museum’s knowledge or permission.
“These actions are clear violations of my intellectual property and moral rights, but more importantly they raise larger questions of corporate power and responsibility in our era of global capitalism,” Ai wrote in an opinion piece published by The Guardian and on his Instagram account.
Titled “Soleil Levant,” the installation seen in the ad was created for World Refugee Day in 2017. The work comprises more than 3,500 life jackets that were worn by migrants on their perilous sea journey to reach Europe. The work was exhibited on the facade of the Kunsthal Charlottenborg museum in Copenhagen.
The ad shows an orange car in front of the brick wall of the museum with the bright orange vests as a backdrop, without any reference to the work or its meaning.