Follow us for updates
© 2021
Read the Story →

This Iron Tree Artwork Seeks to Raise Awareness on Deforestation

Ai Weiwei's latest work rises in Portugal.
by Reuters
Just now
Photo/s: Violeta Santos Moura, Reuters

PORTO, Portugal -- Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei unveiled a 32-meter-tall (105 ft) tropical tree made of iron in the Portuguese city of Porto on Thursday, an artwork he hopes will raise awareness of the devastating consequences of deforestation.

Four years ago, Ai was in Brazil to investigate the threats faced by its forests when he stumbled upon an endangered ancient tree of the Caryocar genus in the northeastern Atlantic forest.

Using scaffolding, a team moulded the tree and shipped the mould to China, where it was cast before being sent to Portugal, Ai's new home, to be assembled and exhibited for the first time.

The exhibition, which also includes installations composed of iron tree roots, is taking place at Porto's Serralves museum and park, and will be open to visitors until next year.

"People should look at these works and think of what we could lose in the future," Ai, 63, told Reuters by telephone. "It's... a warning about what we are going to lose if we don't act."

Continue reading below ↓


Ai's tree stands leafless, has a hollow trunk and the iron looks rusty, reminding visitors of the environmental threats facing the planet.

In Brazil's Amazon, deforestation has surged since right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019.

Bolsonaro has called for mining and agriculture in protected areas of the Amazon and weakened environmental agencies.

"Brazil has a clear policy which sacrifices their best resource: their rainforest, their nature," Ai said. "And that's not just Brazil's best's planet earth's best resource."

Scientists say protection of the Amazon is vital to curbing climate change because of the vast amount of greenhouse gas its rainforest absorbs.

Continue reading below ↓
Recommended Videos

"The problem is that we never learn from our mistakes... we never really learn a lesson," Ai said, urging the world to prepare for "even bigger" environmental disasters.

Reportr is now on Quento. Download the app or visit the Quento website for more articles and videos from Reportr and your favorite websites.

Latest Headlines
Read Next
Recent News
The news. So what? Subscribe to the newsletter that explains what the news means for you.
The email address you entered is invalid.
Thank you for signing up to On Three, reportr's weekly newsletter delivered to your mailbox three times a week. Only the latest, most useful and most insightful reads.
By signing up to newsletter, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.