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More than 1.2 million Lego bricks were assembled by hand to form the individual portraits, arranged on the floor in Ai's latest subversion of ready-made materials.Several of the "prisoners of conscience" chosen by Ai – himself held under house arrest without charge for three months in 2011 and banned from traveling outside China until 2015 – are likely to trigger debate in the United States.Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, behind some of the biggest leaks of classified documents in U.S. history, share the first of six zones of 30 portraits with historical figures like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen and British resident held at Guantanamo Bay without trial or charge for more than 13 years until 2015 .
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