In an exclusive collaboration with The St. Regis Venice the great 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 splendour using his own unique visual language. As always, Ai Weiwei takes us 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 Ai Weiwei’s work, these items become akin to clues, symbols that are weighted by their varied associations, each carrying with them their own stories.
The defiant hand to power leaps out as a clear echo to Ai 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 Ai 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,” says Patrizia Hofer, General Manager of 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 travellers 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 August in the presence of the artist to celebrate the White Chandelier’s debut in the main entrance hall of the historic hotel.
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About Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei (*1957, Beijing) lives and works in multiple locations, including Beijing (China), Berlin (Germany), Cambridge (UK) and Lisbon (Portugal). He is a multimedia artist who also works in film, writing and social media.
About Berengo Studio
Berengo Studio was founded in 1989 by Adriano Berengo with the intention of creating a space for creatives of all disciplines to freely experiment with the medium of glass. Over the last thirty years the Studio has forged a new path for the medium within the art world, testing the limits of contemporary glassmaking with its innovative and inventive approach. Inspired by the work of Peggy Guggenheim and Edigio Costantini in the 1960s, who invited artists such as Picasso and Chagall to produce sculptures in glass, Berengo decided to further this creative vision, inviting contemporary artists from around the world to collaborate with the skilled glass maestros of Murano. It’s an enterprise that has seen him collaborate with the likes of Ai Weiwei, Tracey Emin, Thomas Schütte, and Laure Prouvost. Today sculptures made at Berengo Studio can be found in museums, galleries, and collections around the world, and the Studio is seen as the leading glass furnace for artistic collaborations.
About Luce5 and The Lighting Factory
Luce5 is an Italian company that has been operating since 1991 working alongside architects, lighting designers, artists, and creatives who wish to realise unique projects with light. The Lighting Factory is an ambitious project that gathers and enhances the skills and competencies that Luce5 has developed thanks to several collaborations with international artists. The name of the project pays homage to one of the most famous artist studios that ever existed and whose creative and collaborative spirit the company wishes to honour: Andy Warhol’s The Factory. Light and its control are essential to enhance and appreciate the details of any artwork and Luce5 combines technical expertise with extensive research, cooperation, creativity and ambition to ensure every project is matched to its own unique lighting system.
About The St. Regis Venice
The ultimate sophisticate and arbiter, The St. Regis Venice combines historic legacy with modern luxury in a privileged location beside the Grand Canal surrounded by views of Venice’s most iconic landmarks. Through a meticulous restoration of the unique collection of five Venetian palaces, the hotel’s design celebrates the modern spirit of Venice, boasting 130 guest-rooms and 39 suites, many with furnished private terraces with incomparable views of the city. Uncompromising glamour extends naturally to the hotel’s restaurants and bars, which offers a range of exquisite dining and beverage options for Venetians and visitors alike including the private Italianate Garden (a refined space for local tastemakers and guests to mingle), Gio’s Restaurant & Terrace (the hotel’s signature restaurant), and The Arts Bar, where cocktails have been specially created to celebrate masterpieces of art. For celebratory gatherings and more formal functions, the hotel offers a choice of areas that can be easily transformed and personalised to host guests, supported by an extensive menu of inspirational cuisine. Crafted occasions are held in the Library, with its urbane atmosphere, in the well-appointed Lounge, or in its adjacent Astor Boardroom. The Canaletto Room embodies the contemporary spirit of a Venetian palazzo and impressive ballroom, presenting an ideal backdrop for significant celebrations. For more information, please visit stregisvenice.com.
About St. Regis Hotels & Resorts
Combining timeless glamour with a vanguard spirit, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts is committed to delivering exquisite experiences at more than 50 luxury hotels and resorts in the best addresses around the world. Beginning with the debut of The St. Regis hotel in New York by John Jacob Astor IV at the dawn of the twentieth century, the brand has remained committed to an uncompromising level of bespoke and anticipatory service for all of its guests, delivered flawlessly by the signature St. Regis Butler Service. For more information and new openings, visit stregis.com or follow Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. St. Regis is proud to participate in Marriott Bonvoy®, the global travel program from Marriott International. The program offers members an extraordinary portfolio of global brands, exclusive experiences on Marriott Bonvoy Moments and unparalleled benefits including complimentary nights and Elite status recognition. To enrol for free or for more information about the program, visit marriottbonvoy.com.