Published for the exhibition Disposition, this slim but satisfying catalogue is composed of a series of pictures, close-ups and words about the two major projects Ai Weiwei has created for Zuecca Project Space within the context of the 55th Venice Biennale.
As Maurizio Bortolotti writes in the foreword of the publication, “the two projects presented [...] are connected by their great inner coherence, and seem like mirror images of each other.” As a matter of fact, the works are consequential and they both intend to highlight the tragic consequences of the multifaceted transformations happening in contemporary China. The first project—Straight—is the result of a two-year investigation into the hazardous safety/security conditions of Chinese public buildings, conducted by Ai Weiwei Studio in the wake of the Great Sichuan Earthquake in 2008 (where 5196 children died because schools in the area were built with unsuitable materials and without compliance with safety standards). Following this project, Ai Weiwei was imprisoned by the government for 81 days in a secret location, and from that terrible experience comes S.A.C.R.E.D.—an installation specifically conceived for the exhibition and composed of six metal dioramas, about 1.5 meters in height, that depict key moments of the everyday life of the artist during his imprisonment (and of the grotesque “high-proximity” surveillance applied by the guards). Flipping through the pages of the catalogue, it appears clear why today—as the Director of the Zuecca Project Space Alessandro Posati underlines in one of the texts—“Ai Weiwei's message and work are stronger and clearer than ever.”