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Cai Guo-Qiang Brings Glass Suicide Bomber’s Vests to Venice

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Category: exhibition

Full-Body Scan: Next!, Computer rendering, 2013. Courtesy Cai Studio 

The collaboration between independent curator James Putnam and traditional hand-blown glass artisans at Berengo Studio in Venice, “Glasstress,” presents its 3rd edition at the 55th Venice Biennale this year, titled White Light / White Heat. The exhibition opens on 31 May at Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti on the Grand Canal next to Ponte dell’Accademia, and will be on view until 24 November. For the exhibition, Putnam and Adriano Berengo, President of Berengo Studio, invited contemporary artists to work with Murano artisans to create works of art from glass. Among the sixty-six artists featured, Cai Guo-Qiang will stage Full-Body Scan: Next!, his first attempt to employ glass as a medium in his work.

Full-Body Scan: Next!, Computer rendering, 2013. Courtesy Cai Studio. 

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Cai produced a series of daring works as a response, including installations such as Illusion and Inopportune: Stage One, both mimicking car bombs in action. Other works such as Bon Voyage and Move Along, Nothing to See Here collected thousands of sharp objects confiscated from travelers at airport security check points, while his various black fireworks displayed in the middle of a sunny day against a bright blue sky stirred up a hidden sense of unease on a seemingly peaceful day.
Full-Body Scan: Next! subtly takes root from the reluctance and the humiliation, the preventing and the prevented, and the fine line between “safety” and “danger.” Cai has asked the glass artisans in Murano to fabricate ten wearable suicide bomber’s vests in glass. All parts are made from glass, but the explosives, detonators, wires, and shrapnel in the glass pockets are created from spurious odds and ends posing as the genuine. The audience thus gains X-ray vision, clearly seeing the explosives within the vests.

White Light / White Heat

Dates:31,May〜11,November,2013
Venues:Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, Campo S. Stefano, 2847
       Berengo Centre for Contemporary Art and Glass, Campiello della Pescheria Murano
       Scuola Grande Confraternita di San Teodoro, San Marco, 4810

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