November 26, 2013

3,144 Steel Bikes Find New Life (and Light)


On October 5th, Toronto’s eighth-annual Scotiabank Nuit Blanche kicked off at 6:51pm. This year’s sunset-to-sunrise celebration of contemporary art featured more than 110 contemporary art projects, including Forever Bicycles, a multi-media sculpture of steel bikes by world-renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

The three-dimensional sculpture, consisting of 3,144 bicycles assembled in the city’s Nathan Phillips Square, creates a labyrinth of steel frames, all Yong Jiu (translated as “forever”), the most popular brand of Chinese two-wheeler. The installation dominates the outdoor space, measuring 100 feet long by 30 feet wide and consists of some 3,144 bicycles, resulting in so much depth and volume the piece almost appears blurred.

When seen at night, the sculpture’s colossal gathering of metal frames glows in colored lights, creating a stunning visual play that viewers can enjoy from a multitude of angles. Toronto’s Forever Bicycles is the second edition of the sculpture—it was first seen at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in 2011. Yatzer says of the piece of public art: “Forming a complex labyrinth-like monument, this is the artist’s reflection of his perception of the rapid pace of society both in China and around the world.”

Thanks to Designboom for putting this wheeled work of art on our radar! Here’s a fabulous video of the installation of the innovative project the City of Toronto commissioned cinematographer and time-lapse photographer Ryan Emond to capture as the colossal structure was being constructed. It comes alive from the ground up (to its final height of 30 feet) in less than four minutes:

You can hear Weiwei talk about his inspiration behind the project on this video on YouTube. Photos by Ryan Davey

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