As a Collateral Event of the 55. International Art Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia, Zuecca Projects presents an exhibition of new works by Ai Weiwei, from 29 May - 15 September 2013. The artist's only major new solo show in 2013, it is being presented across two locations in Venice: the Zitelle complex, home of Zuecca Projects, and the church of SantAntonin. Work by Ai Weiwei also are on display elsewhere in the Venice Biennale as part of a group exhibition at the German Pavilion.
Curated by Maurizio Bortolotti, the exhibition comprises landmark works showing Ai Weiwei at the height of his artistic and polemic powers. In Zuecca is being seen an expanded version of the artist's acclaimed sculptural installation Straight. First exhibited as part of his 2012 acclaimed survey show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC., Straight is formed from multiple tons of steel rebar recovered from the collapsed schools in which more than five thousand children perished during the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China.
Revealed during the opening week of the Venice Biennale, Ai Weiwei has specially conceived a new work for the SantAntonin church location. This functions as a dialogue between the artist and the existing architecture, offering an immediate sense of the drama of an event which underlines the contradictory development of contemporary China.
S.A.C.R.E.D, presented at the Sant’Antonin church, is composed of six parts: (i) Supper, (ii) Accusers, (iii) Cleansing, (iv) Ritual, (v) Entropy, and (vi) Doubt. This landmark work comprises six large iron boxes with small apertures - such as those found in the doors of a cell - through which the viewer must peer to see the dioramas contained within. Each diorama includes large hyper-realist models of the artist and his captors, and documents in painstaking, unflinching detail the different stages of Ai Weiwei’s time in incarceration.
From the moment he is first led into his cell, to periods of interrogation, to him sleeping, to even those instances when he was forced to use the toilet or wash naked under the gaze of his captors, no aspect of Ai Weiwei’s life in prison is left unexplored. The artist’s unflinching willingness to reveal the most intimate and painful moments of his captivity underscores the relentless assault on personal dignity and freedom that he and many others have suffered, and continue to suffer, at the hands of the authorities in China and in other countries worldwide who seek to constrain freedom of expression with force.
One of the leading cultural figures of his generation Ai Weiwei has consistently displayed great courage, placing himself at risk to affect social change through his art. He serves as an example for legitimate social criticism and free expression both in China and internationally.
The exhibition with Zuecca Projects represents a new chapter in the long-standing historical relationship - founded on trade, as well as religious and cultural exchange - that exists between China and Venice. The relationship will acquire fresh immediacy in light of the artist's interpretation of Contemporary China within the context of the city.
The exhibition is presented in collaboration with Lisson Gallery
, which has represented and worked closely with Ai Weiwei since 2010, presenting acclaimed solo exhibitions of his work at its London and Milan locations.