Paris department store Le Bon Marché is giving carte blanche to Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei for his first-ever exhibition in a retail space.
From Jan. 16 until Feb. 20, 2016, Ai will turn the Left Bank store into his playground with an exhibition titled “Er Xi,” or “Child’s Play” in Mandarin. Drawing inspiration from the Chinese collection of epic tales “Classic of Mountains and Seas,” he will create kites designed to evoke feathered dragons.
“Showing at Le Bon Marché is using a new medium, the department store, to encounter a new audience, as broad as a museum’s; one which doesn’t come for art in principle,” the artist said in a statement.
“This experience also allows me to find a new way to conceive an exhibition, with constraints that are different from a museum’s or a gallery’s. Exploring new potentials is an integral part of my work as an artist,” he added.
→ Link to the article “Le Bon Marché to Host Ai Weiwei Exhibit” by Joelle Diderich on wwd
Sneak Peek: Ai Weiwei Takes Over Le Bon Marché in Paris
The commissioned artworks are inspired by the Shan Hai Jing (Classic of Mountains and Seas), a collection of epic legends and fairy tales that dates back to Chinese antiquity and centered around the Yellow Emperor, or heavenly emperor of the west. Using traditional folk-craft techniques, dragons and chimera are made from bamboo and rice papers, materials that the artist first used as a child to build his first kite.
“The Shan Hai Jing is the China of my childhood, but also contemporary China, which is a mythology no one understands, not even me. That’s why it’s so fascinating,” he added.
→ Link to the article “Sneak Peek: Ai Weiwei Takes Over Le Bon Marché in Paris” by Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop