la Biennale di Venezia, Zuecca Project Space, in collaboration with the Lisson Gallery London, presents a collateral event of the 55th International Art Exhibition of new works by Ai Weiwei, from 29 May – 15 September 2013. The artist’s only major new solo show in 2013, it marks the debut of S.A.C.R.E.D, an extraordinary new work addressing his April 2011 arrest by the Chinese Government and the 81-day period subsequently spent in captivity. This is the first time the artist has directly responded to his incarceration through a work in a public exhibition.
Curated by Maurizio Bortolotti, the exhibition is presented across two locations in Venice: the church of Sant’Antonin and the Zitelle complex, home of Zuecca Project Space. Work by Ai Weiwei will also be on display elsewhere at the Venice Biennale, as part of a group exhibition representing the German Pavilion.
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.
In the Zuecca Project Space is an expanded version of the artist’s 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 150 tons of steel rebar recovered from the collapsed schools in which more than five thousand children perished during the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China.
Opening hours: 10am – 6 pm
Location 1: Complesso delle Zitelle, Giudecca Vaporetto Stop: Zitelle Location 2: Chiesa di Sant’ Antonin, Castello
Vaporetto Stop: San Marco – Pietà / San Zaccaria (da Zitelle)