UTA has signed Beijing-born artist and social activist Ai Weiwei. Among the creative initiatives the agency will assist in is to help with the financing and distribution strategy of The Human Flow, the tentative title of a feature documentary about the global refugee crisis that Weiwei is shooting in France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and locations in Africa. This is the first time Weiwei has signed with a Hollywood agency and he will be repped by a team led by Josh Roth. Roth heads the UTA Fine Arts division, which launched last year and was the catalyst for this signing. The film will be released next year, with Andrew Cohen exec producing.

Weiwei attended the Beijing Film Academy and studies at Parsons School of Design in New York. His solo exhibitions have been featured in London, D.C., Munich and other places and his accolades include the lifetime achievement award from the Chinese Contemporary Art Awards, and the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation. He is a professor at Berlin’s Universitat der Kunst. He has been a pioneer of social criticism and free expression in China, using social networks as an artistic medium to reflect on geopolitics and society.

“Weiwei is a modern-day Renaissance figure whose work speaks to all citizens of the world,” said UTA’s Roth. “It is a privilege to work with Weiwei and to help expand his brilliant artistic vision across virtually innumerable opportunities.”