Ai Weiwei to address the Rohingya refugee crisis in new documentary

The Chinese artist and dissident was producing documentaries and directing an opera in Italy when the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.

Weiwei has since moved to Cambridge, England, where he is self-isolating with his family and working on three full-length documentaries.

Details about the forthcoming films are still scarce to this date, although Weiwei has recently discussed his new projects with Phillips Senior Advisor Arnold Lehman as part of the auction house's "ART MATTERS" series.

One the documentaries will focus on the Rohingya refugee crisis, during which over 900,000 Burmese Rohingya were forcibly displaced or fled from the Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh in 2015.

The film, which will chronicle "a crisis that has almost been forgotten," is currently in the post-production stage and is due to premiere by the end of the year.

Additionally, Weiwei is currently filming a documentary about the current COVID-19 pandemic, whose social distancing restrictions remind him of his three-month detention in Beijing in 2011 on charges of tax evasion.

"There's not two military officers in the room, but otherwise it's the same. It's still isolation from the outside world, but now at least we have internet [and] there's plenty of time for cooking," he told Lehman, also adding that he hopes this new project will make "everyone really understand what it's like to be isolated."

Meanwhile, museums and cultural institutions across the world are scrambling to collect and preserve ephemera, photographs and personal items that capture everyday life in the midst of the pandemic.

Earlier this May, the National Portrait Gallery launched the "Hold Still" initiative in conjunction with Kate Middleton.

The collaborative project invites Britons to submit portraits of their lives under lockdown until June 18, with the museum calling on photographs that respond to the themes "Helpers and Heroes," "Your New Normal" and "Acts of Kindness."

A presentation of selected portraits will be on view on the website of the National Portrait Gallery at a yet-unannounced date in August.

Additionally, the New York Historical Society has launched an open call for the donation of objects, photographs, digital documents and other ephemera that document the global health crisis.

The institution is looking for artefacts such as public signs, flyers for emergency food services, homemade protective equipment and past-time activities adopted in response to stay-at-home guidelines.