Art Works Life Lessons Story of the Week

Ai Weiwei’s ‘Rebar In Gold’ Exhibition Shines A Light On Societal Apathy

Photo Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio

World-renowned Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei, partners with Elisabetta Cipriani Gallery in London to showcase his latest work titled “Rebar in Gold.” Rebar in Gold takes root in Ai Weiwei’s investigation into the devastating 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, which killed approximately 70,000 people. Ai’s concern focused on the distressing number of children who perished due to the poor construction techniques used to build government schools. Rebar in Gold is an attempt to shine a light on a collective indifference, mostly in developed nations, toward issues of concern.

‘Rebar in Gold’ exhibition at London’s Elisabetta Cipriani Gallery

Upon visiting Wenchuan after the earthquake, Ai found a mass of contorted steel rebar left behind from the fallen school buildings. Ai purchased 200 tons of the material from the scrapyards, where they were sent after the sites were cleared, for use in a bold body of work dedicated to the catastrophe.

For the exhibition Ai Weiwei twisted and crafted wearable sculptures by hand, then coated each in 24-karat gold.  The artist has chosen gold, a material traditionally reflecting eternity and wealth, as a direct contradiction to the sudden tragic destruction caused by the earthquake as a consequence of substandard government building regulations.

Ai Weiwei’s “Rebar in Gold” is on view now until January 16, 2016 at:

Elisabetta Cipriani Gallery
23, Heddon Street in London.

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