Rebar in Gold, 2013
24kt gold bracelet
20 cm long
Rebar in Gold takes root in Ai Weiwei’s investigation into the devastating 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, which killed approximately 70,000 people. Ai’s concern focused on the distressing number of children who perished due to the poor construction techniques used to build government schools. Upon visiting Wenchuan after the earthquake, Ai found a mass of contorted steel rebar, left behind from the fallen school buildings. Ai purchased 200 tonnes of the material from the scrapyards, where they were sent after the sites were cleared, for use in a bold body of work dedicated to the catastrophe.
“It is about commemoration and memory” Ai Weiwei says. “Whether your memory or the one I have, that’s up to you, so you mould the piece to suit you. I used gold because it’s precious and that’s what life is. If you wear this piece in the name of memory of a life lost or your life ahead, that’s what matters. It’s all about respect for life.”
The artist presents unique pieces of handcrafted 24 karat gold rebar in two lengths; 60cm and 20cm.
As the gold is pure at 24 Karat, it is flexible and each bar is individually bent by the artist, creating the first form for the wearer to then adjust on his or her wrist, finger or neck.