Concept of Treadmill is a project by Ai Weiwei, supported by various human rights organizations including the Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, Courage Foundation, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association...
An idea is to encourage people to send political prisoners a postcard and show them that we care about them. Among many names, there is Julian Assange UK's political prisoner. Julian remains in custody at HMP Belmarsh, where he has been detained for more than two years. He is facing up to 175 years in prison for publishing truthful information in the public interest. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called for the UK government to “end Mr. Assange’s deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation.”
Concept of Treadmill, 2021
Ai Weiwei designed a postcard in early 2021 to submit to Firstsite’ project “The Great Big Art Exhibition”, and the work was turned down. The image of the postcard is a treadmill, the object sent to the artist by Julian Assange in October 2016 when Assange was taking refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London. He was later forcefully taken by the British authorities in April 2019 and is still incarcerated in the UK.
The concept originated from “Yours Truly”, a postcard writing component of the exhibition @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz in 2014. Visitors were invited to compose messages of hope to political prisoners whose plight was highlighted in the exhibition.
Peter Benenson, the Founder of Amnesty International, once said, “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” To implement the concept of creating a postcard and sending it to prisoners of conscience globally, a list of names and addresses of the political prisoners, most of which come from Amnesty International, is provided.