Date
25 March 2017
The highlight of the Royal Academy show is a 90-ton installation entitled Straight, which is made from steel rods from buildings damaged in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Photo: BBC/Ai Weiwei
The highlight of the Royal Academy show is a 90-ton installation entitled Straight, which is made from steel rods from buildings damaged in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Photo: BBC/Ai Weiwei

Royal Academy to present monumental Ai Weiwei sculpture

The Royal Academy of Arts will present a major retrospective of the work of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, including the heaviest sculpture ever to be shown at the London art institution.

The 90-ton installation, entitled Straight, is made from steel rods from buildings damaged in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, BBC News reported.

However, Ai will not be present at the show since authorities banned him from overseas travel four years ago.

For his monumental sculpture, Ai collected some 200 tons of twisted steel rods from the Sichuan earthquake which killed more than 69,000 people, the BBC said.

He straightened the bars by hand in his studio in Beijing.

The Royal Academy described the artwork as “a sober monument to the victims of the earthquake”.

In a statement, Ai said: “I’m very happy to be a part of it. This exhibition is my first major survey in London, a city I greatly admire. The selected artworks reflect my practice in recent years, and also include new works made specifically for this show.”

The show includes a porcelain work entitled Remains, which replicates a group of bones excavated at the site of a labor camp during the reign of Mao Zedong in the 1950s.

Speaking of the exhibition, co-curator Adrian Locke said: “Working with Ai Weiwei has presented us with new challenges but his ability to comprehend space, even without having experienced it first-hand, and the clarity of his vision for the use of that space in relation to his work has been revelatory.”

Ai “virtually navigated the spaces” from his studio in Beijing to work on the exhibition, the academy said.

The show will run from Sept. 19 to Dec. 13.

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Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will not be able to attend the show as his passport has been confiscated by authorities. Photo: Arts Commons


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