ai weiwei @ le bon marché

going to a department store isn’t usually our highest priority when we visit paris.  but this time, our visit coincided with an art exhibition by chinese contemporary artist, ai weiwei, at le bon marché.  so, my husband, bob, and i made an exception.

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux (child’s play or playground)

le bon marché rive gauche | 24, rue de sèvres | paris, france

16 january-20 february 2016

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

le bon marché commissioned the art exhibition as a promotion for their annual winter white sale.

does that seem surprising to you?

did you know that le bon marché is owned by luxury business group moët hennessy louis vuitton (LVMH)?  LVMH, who is a corporate patron of the arts, culture, and heritage, recently opened the the fondation louis vuitton, a private contemporary art museum in paris.  so, it doesn’t seem unusual for them to sponsor an art exhibition.  their only requirement of ai weiwei was the white color scheme.

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exhibition program | ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

the exhibition, which was his first exhibition in a retail environment, included five installations:  windows 1 to 10, ten narratives installed in the ten windows along rue de sèvres; dragon in four pieces, a silk and bamboo sculpture installed in the gallery on the ground floor; selfie wall, a video installation on the first floor; and escalating dragon, drawings in the style of chinese ink paintings applied to the railings of the central escalator.

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ai weiwei | escalating dragon

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

the song of white, the atrium installation, was the most fantastic with 22 kites of mythological characters from the ancient chinese text, classic of mountains and seas (shan hai jing), suspended like mobiles over the cosmetics department.

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ai weiwei | the song of white

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

for the entire exhibition, ai, along with a master kitemaker and his team of artisans from shandong province, china, hand crafted about 100 kites.  they left the bamboo frames of some kites uncovered.  and, covered the bamboo frames of other kites with white silk, which is less fragile than rice paper, the traditional material.  they illuminated some of the silk covered kites from the interior, so that they glowed like lanterns.

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ai weiwei | the song of white | heluo

heluo | a fish with one head and ten tails | barks like a dog

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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ai weiwei | the song of white | shuyu

shuyu | a fish with four heads, three tails, six chicken feet, and red feathers | chirps like a magpie

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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ai weiwei | the song of white | chunaio

chunaio | the ‘sixheadrook bird’ | a green bird with a yellow body, red feet, and six heads

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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ai weiwei | the song of white | tianwu

tianwu | ‘sky cry’, the lord of the waters | a diety with eight human heads, eight feet, and eight tails

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

according to women’s wear daily (wwd), one of the kites may be acquired by the fondation louis vuitton (FLV).  if you were the curator, which one would you choose?

click here to read my post about the fondation louis vuitton.

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