Mary Boone Gallery: Forge by Ai Wei Wei

A delicious and solitary sojourn to the Mary Boone Gallery this week to see AWW’s wonderful latest. He did not disappoint. Forge is a gentle but not subtle homage to and critique of the 2008 earthquake in China which killed 5,000 schoolchildren; knowledge of faulty construction of the schools was covered up by the Chinese government.

The work, very simply, consists of a 2D and 3D reconstruction of the steel rebar which was grotesquely twisted from the schools that collapsed, accompanied by a video giving us the context of both the government cover-up and the studio’s painful and meditative recreation of the damage. The rebar reconstruction in itself, which fills the entire Chelsea gallery, is beautiful and elegant, even as it gives off a strong odor of violence, harshness and unnaturalness. But as with AWW’s many works, the context with which this was created gives it that additional and awful layer of truth and real-time anguish.

See also: Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry