After the great success of the first exhibition at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome, the monumental Murano black glass sculpture La Commedia Umana (Human Comedy) by Ai Weiwei is exhibited in Venice from August 28 to November 27 in the Palladian Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore in a solo show by the Chinese artist and activist.
A cascade of bones, organs and unexpected objects in black Murano glass
La Commedia Umana is a huge suspended sculpture composed of over 2000 pieces of black glass handmade by the masters of Berengo Studio in Murano. With a height of 8.4 meters, a width of 6.4 meters and a weight of 2700 kg, the gigantic installation is the largest suspended Murano glass sculpture ever made.
Ai Weiwei has been working in Murano glass since 2017. Reimagining classic Venetian glass chandelier, La Commedia Umana is a glass assemblage of mythological figures, human skulls, skeletons, internal organs, bones, and animals such as crabs and bats and unexpected objects like surveillance cameras.
This artwork, accomplished after four years of efforts, is closely related to the artist’s long-term reflections on humanism and humanity, and his outspoken advocacy of freedom of expression. Emphasized by the skilful study of light developed by the Luce5 team to enhance its details, the La Commedia Umana invites us to reflect on the alienating relationship between man and the natural world, on spirituality and the uncertain future of humanity: a reinterpretation of the theme of Memento Mori in a contemporary and irreverent key.
“Glass, a special material and part of our daily life, testifies to joy, the anxiety and worries of our life. In his presence we reflect on the relationship between life and death, and between tradition and reality” explains Ai Weiwei.
A tangle of conflicting feelings and suggestions
“This vast suspended sculpture in black glass is unique, nothing like it has ever been seen or made before” comments Adriano Berengo, founder of Berengo Studio and the Berengo Foundation.
“Part of its beauty remains a mystery, a human tragedy, a comedy, arouses a tangle of conflicting feelings and suggestions that each of us must seek to dissolve in its own way. It is a work that arouses emotions, which forces us to deal not only with our own mortality, but also with the role that our lives have in the great theater of human history”.
The gigantic work returns to its Venetian origins
After its debut in Rome in spring 2022, the monumental “chandelier” goes back to its origins Venetian, joining eight unpublished glass works, including Brainless Figure in Glass, a self-portrait conceived through modern technologies and manual sculpture and Glass Root, which refers to the woodworking of the artist after the discovery of remains of deforestation and natural causes in Brazil in 2017, and to everyday objects, such as Glass Takeout Box, a symbol of globalization and Glass Toilet Paper, which reflects the fragility of contemporary society.
The other works (provocative and recreated with Lego) on display
La Commedia Umana - Memento Mori , curated by Ai Weiwei, Adriano Berengo and Carmelo A. Grasso and realized in collaboration with the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore - Benedicti Claustra Onlus, Berengo Studio and Berengo Foundation, also includes about thirty significant works of the Chinese artist, including the selfie Illumination and the provocative series of photographs recreated in Lego bricks, as well as a selection of glass sculptures fruit of an experimentation that artist started in Beijing in 2009 and culminated in a three-year project conceived in Murano.