Chinese artist Ai Weiwei‘s new politically motivated work ‘Fragments’ transforms salvaged wood taken from Qing Dynasty temples into a series of monumental installations. At first glance the works appear chaotic and jumbled – they are composed of dismantled sequences of pillars and beams – but from above Weiwei has recreated a unique 3D map of the intricate borders of China, commenting on the fragility of the country’s foreign relations.

ai weiwei, smithsonian gallery, fragments, recycled wood sculpture, reclaimed wooden temples, repurposed artwork, reclaimed timber

The work itself sits in a delicate balance – the installations are held together using an ancient form of joinery that does not use nails. Anchored by poles, the “irrational structure” is a colossal sculpture that highlights the absurdity of sociological and political boundaries. The use of recycled antique wood emphasizes the rapid transformations and shifts observed within the country, as well its heritage.

Weiwei is repeatedly at the center of controversy in China as one of the country’s most famous and outspoken artists. Despite the fact that he is currently under house arrest, his work will be featured as part of the retrospective ‘Perspectives: Ai Weiwei’, on display at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery through April 7, 2013.

+ Smithsoinan gallery

Via Treehugger

Images courtesy of the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery