LONDON. Tate Liverpool has commissioned the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to make an ambitious installation for the Liverpool Biennial, opening next September. This will span the width of the historic former dockyard where the gallery is located. The engineering firm Arup is currently conducting a feasibility study for Web of Light which will be concluded by the end of this month.
The work will consist of illuminated crystalline strands suspended from steel cables which stretch across the Albert Dock. A spider made out of crystals will hang in the corner nearest to Tate; the entire installation will weigh over eight tonnes. The gallery will need to raise around £400,000 to realise the work.
Ai Weiwei has already made an installation for Tate Liverpool included in the exhibition “The Real Thing: Contemporary Art from China” earlier this year. Fountain of Light was a two-tonne eight-metre-high steel structure illuminated like a chandelier which floated in the middle of the dock.
Simon Groom, formerly Head of Exhibitions at Tate Liverpool, now director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, says: “Ai Weiwei very much liked the architecture of the Albert Dock, as well as the sense of energy in Liverpool which he compared to Beijing. Given the success and popular appeal of the first work, it seemed only natural to want to pursue something of an even more ambitious and spectacular nature, and Web of Light promises to be the ‘must-see’ landmark public work for Capital of Culture. The work is incredibly ambitious, and of a scale to dwarf every other major public commission—but this is what happens when the ambitions of a country like China collide with those of a city like Liverpool!”