In an exclusive collaboration with The St. Regis Venice, artist and activist Ai Weiwei has produced a site-specific artwork: White Chandelier.
A ball of light, composed of great glass vines that twist in great arches around each other the artwork unwinds and reformulates the traditional architecture of the Venetian chandelier, presenting a unique one-of-a-kind work handmade in collaboration with the master artisans of Berengo Studio in Murano Glass.
Through the chandelier, the artist explores the classical imagery of Venetian glass chandeliers and sets out to reinterpret this historical splendor using his own unique visual language. Weiwei takes guests by surprise, on closer inspection, the foliage and delicate florals of the chandelier’s baroque exterior give way to a series of unexpected guests, items and creatures that cut through the ornate botanical foliage with contemporary ferocity. A pair of handcuffs dangle from a branch, crabs scuttle over blossoming flowers and voluptuous leaves, an isolated hand raises a finger in protest. To those who know Weiwei’s work, these items become akin to clues and symbols weighted by their varied associations, each carrying with them their own stories.
The defiant hand to power leaps out as a clear echo to Weiwei’s famous photographic series “Study of Perspective” produced between 1995 and 2017 where the artist photographed his own hand with a raised middle finger before monuments and sites of power and prestige around the world. The crabs reference the thousands of porcelain river crabs that crowded the 2010 installation titled “He Xie,” a homonym for harmony and a phrase used often by the Chinese government, that was also a slang term for internet censorship. A glass bird in the form of the iconic Twitter icon sits silently within this landscape, a reference to the artist’s prolific use of the social media platform. In this way, this new chandelier of Weiwei holds within it a complex network of ideas and forms, a web of artistic references and connotations that trace the entire oeuvre of the contemporary artist’s career.
“We are delighted to welcome Ai Weiwei’s ‘White Chandelier’ as the protagonist of our magnificent Gran Salone. Our hotel has become a trendsetter serving as home for pieces of acclaimed contemporary artists. That combined with our historic legacy, residential luxury and privilege location makes us the best address in Venice,” said Patrizia Hofer, general manager, The St. Regis Venice. “The hotel is a luxury destination, rich in history and tradition, inspired by the city’s artistic heritage, which marries contemporary innovation by hosting a series of distinguished guests and artists to allow travelers and art lovers visiting Venice to discover the city from a whole new perspective.”
The functional artwork is skillfully illuminated thanks to Berengo Studio’s partnership with the creative Italian lighting company Luce5. An exclusive cocktail event at The St. Regis Venice hotel was held on the evening of the 28th of Aug. in the presence of the artist to celebrate the White Chandelier’s debut in the main entrance hall of the historic hotel.