As part of an exclusive collaboration with The St. Regis Venice, artist and activist Ai Weiwei has produced a site-specific work: White Chandelier.
A ball of light, made up of large glass vines that twist into large arches around each other, the work unfolds and recasts the traditional architecture of the Venetian chandelier, presenting a one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted work of art. collaboration with the master craftsmen of Studio Berengo in Murano glass.
Through the chandelier, the artist explores the classic imagery of Venetian glass chandeliers and sets out to reinterpret this historic splendor using his own unique visual language. Weiwei takes guests by surprise, upon closer inspection, the delicate foliage and flowers of the baroque exterior of the chandelier give way to a series of unexpected guests, objects and creatures that pass through the ornate botanical foliage. with contemporary ferocity. A pair of handcuffs hang from a branch, crabs scurry over blooming flowers and voluptuous leaves, a lone hand raises a finger in protest. For those familiar with Weiwei’s work, these elements become clues and symbols weighted by their varied associations, each carrying with it their own stories.
The defiant hand of power springs as a clear echo of 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 in front of monuments and sites of power and prestige around the world. The crabs refer to the thousands of porcelain river crabs that swarmed the 2010 installation titled “He Xie”, a namesake for harmony and an expression often used by the Chinese government, which was also a slang term for Internet censorship. A glass bird in the form of Twitter’s iconic icon sits silently in this landscape, a reference to the artist’s prolific use of the social media platform. Thus, this new chandelier by Weiwei carries within it a complex network of ideas and forms, a network of artistic references and connotations that trace the entire career of the contemporary artist.
“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 a home for works by acclaimed contemporary artists. This, combined with our historical heritage, our residential luxury and our privileged location, makes us the best address in Venice,” said Patrizia Hofer, General Manager of the St. Regis Venice. “The hotel is a luxury destination, rich in history and tradition, inspired by the artistic heritage of the city, which marries contemporary innovation by hosting a series of distinguished guests and artists to allow travelers and art lovers visiting Venice to experience the city from a whole new perspective.”
The functional artwork is expertly lit thanks to Berengo Studio’s partnership with creative Italian lighting company Luce5. An exclusive cocktail reception at The St. Regis Venice hotel was held on the evening of August 28 with the artist in attendance to celebrate the White Chandelier’s debut in the historic hotel’s main lobby.