For the first time, artist Ai Weiwei has reached into jewelry design and presented a collection made out of pure 24 karat gold in the light of 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China. This collection, called ‘Rebar in Gold’, is informed by the artist’s longstanding interest and investigation into the disaster.
Killed an approximate number of 70,000 people, this disaster has been a significant topic explored by Weiwei over the last eight years, especially upon the number of children who perished due to poor construction techniques used at government school sites. After purchasing 200 tons of contorted steel rebar left behind from the fallen buildings at the Sichuan province after the quake, the artist then used it for ‘Straight’ – a work dedicated for the catastrophe.
Following a similar theme, the jewelry he presented acts as a subtle memorial to the human life lost among the earthquake’s rubble. It is an opposition to the sudden death and destruction caused by nature as consequences of deplorable building regulations – this statement is translated through the use of gold as a medium, a traditional symbol of wealth and royalty.
The gold rebar has been handcrafted in three lengths. The material is flexible and has been adorned with details that reveal an intricate texture mimicking the qualities of reinforcing steel. The artist has individually bent each bar, creating the first form for the wearer to adjust on their wrist, finger or neck. Rebar in Gold’ is currently on display at London’s Elisabetta Cipriani gallery until January 16, 2016.