Right now Ai Weiwei is showing a new installation with a cause. The influential artist addresses the issue of milk powder consumption in China and Hong Kong. His work “Baby Formula 2013” is composed of 1,815 full cans of baby formula that form a map of China. The large map occupies about 80-square-meters on the floor of Sheung Wan Civic Centre in Hong Kong.
The work, which has gotten a lot of attention, is a response to China's issues with food safety. You see, in 2008 a lot of baby milk was tainted with melamine, a chemical that was added to make the milk look like it was higher in content. Six babies died from the formula and 300,000 others were sick, causing a big scandal. It was like our horse meat controversy except way worse.
"A country like this can put a satellite into space but it can't put a safe bottle teat into a child's mouth. I think it's extremely absurd," Ai told said to Reuters.
Because of the scandal, people have been leaving China for Hong Kong, Canada, the UK, and even Australia to buy baby milk powder like it's not funny. In Hong Kong legislation has been introduced to limit the amount of formula visitors can purchase at a time. After March 1, if visiting families left with more than 1.8 kilograms they could be fined what would be in the U.S. $64,000 and sentences of up to two years in prison. Damn dude.
Ai Weiwei, whose installation will be displayed until May 26, also said to Reuters, “This is a most fundamental assurance of food, but people actually have to go to another region to obtain this kind of thing. I think it’s a totally absurd phenomenon. … I have heard of drug trafficking before, but when a country has milk-powder smuggling instead of drug smuggling, I think this is a devastating sign.”
The artist has rustled some feathers in the past with his art projects. Although his haircut hobby isn't offensive, he did start controversy when he covered buildings with children's' backpacks to raise awareness over the deaths of thousands of kids who died in the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Their deaths are said to have been the result of awful building standards at the area's schools.