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Mobile Art Exhibit Hong Kong 2008

Monday, 17 March 2008

After much hype, I finally went to the Mobile Art exhibit early last week. I even picked an earlier time so then there'd be less people! Turns out I worried for nothing, because they limit the number of people in the exhibit and allow people in at 15 minute intervals. So if you are planning to go, go online to HK Ticketing and reserve a space, the reservation fee is 10HKD. Or you can try your luck and walk in, but then the time slot might be full.

Just in case you missed my previous babbling, this Mobile Art exhibit is the latest Chanel/Lagerfeld project, and is basically a traveling contemporary art container featuring the works of 20 international artists inspired by the Chanel 2.55 bag. It will be traveling around the world for two years, bringing the art to the people. Its first stop is Hong Kong. From there, it will be heading to Tokyo, New York, London, Moscow and finally Paris.

Onto the exhibit. Located on the top of a parking lot at the Star Ferry, it faces the dazzling harbor front and is surrounded by the tall bustling buildings of Central that makes up the business center of HK. Against such a backdrop, it truly felt like an UFO had landed.
The UFO, or more accurately the collapsible "art container" designed by Zaha Hadid is a stunning piece of modern architect in itself. It is like nothing I'd seen before in such a grand scale. It is curvy, sleek, white and elegant...I think I just described Chanel! Once I was inside, I further marveled at how the interior too was curvy, sleek, white and elegant- not a single flat wall in sight! I wonder how it stays up! You must go to the Mobile Art website to take a virtual tour. After checking in my purse, I was assisted to put on a Creative MP3 around my neck and headphones. Then I chose a language (they offer English, Cantonese, Chinese, Japanese, French and maybe some other) adjusted the volume, hit play- and the journey began.

They cleverly time it so that we all start our journey at different times, so it truly IS an individual experience- no mingling or pointing things out to one another. We were each in our own world listening and going at the pace of our own soundtrack. And I mean that literally. The little voice in our head sets the mood and guides us through the exhibit piece by piece, giving us time to appreciate in between before telling us to move on, go up the stairs or turn left. For those of you who have directional problems like me- don't worry, there are people around to point you in the right way. Now I've debated for a few days now the degree of detail I should blog about this, because the details of the exhibit have obviously not been publicized for a reason. It really is something that one has to experience for themselves to fully appreciate. So here I thought I will just highlight a few of my most vivid pieces to wet your appetite (I don't remember the exact names, but i will just give the best description I can):
  • The reflection piece. Once you walk into the dark room, you are told to sit and in front of you, you will see a strip of water on the floor. And reflected in it, you will see the bustling activities of a row of Parisian houses going about their daily tasks. Through the windows you see people eating breakfast, preparing to leave for the evening, turning on/off the lights, the lighting showing the time of day, from night, dawn and sunset. In the background, you can hear the buzzing sounds coming from these houses. And then the voice says that everything looks more beautiful in reflection, but that he wanted to "be part of what is going to happen" and we moved on.....I thought that was very neat and I loved it
  • As we exit the room we are lead to examine various pieces of work in front of us. One collection in particular, I really enjoyed. And it was the 6 carton boxes placed in two rows along the room. We are told to look inside the boxes and in it, you see a short little repeating skit projected from above, of naked women (and men) interacting with the 2.55 bag. Most memorably, I remember a naked woman lying belly down on top of the 2.55 swimming across the box and in another box, two women were fighting over the 2.55!
  • Towards the end, you will see a gigantic 2.55 with the flap opened revealing an opened Chanel compact powder box inside. And in the mirror of that compact box is a video of models practicing shooting with 2.55 bags as the target! Something about the powder of the compact box resembling that of gunpowder. I've definitely not thought of it that way.
  • And lastly, my favourite, was when we were at the wall where stripes of rice paper are found and was told to write down a wish on it and then hang it up on the tree next to the desk. I'm not sure that was even a piece of art, but I liked the idea of making a wish and leaving a mark at the exhibit. (Though I'm sure they have to stripe that tree everyday to accommodate all the wishes!)


Before you leave the exhibit, you are also handed this free booklet as a souvenir. Inside, is some quite comprehension information about this exhibit, interviews with Hadid, Lagerfeld and the other international artists and photographs of Hong Kong, Tokyo and a Chanel collection featuring Devon Aoki, along with some other things. It almost made up for the ban on photography inside the exhibit! Almost.

And that was only a small part of the exhibit! At the risk of sounding like I work on the marketing team of this project (which I unfortunately do not), you simply MUST go see it for yourselves!

Not that I am saying that it was a wonderful brilliant artistic and life altering experience and so you must go, because if I did, it would only be because its Chanel. As quite frankly, I cannot say that I understood much of the meaning behind most of the exhibits. I wandered through dazed trying to absorb everything. I came out still slightly dazed and confused, but one thing I DO know is that it was definitely a unique experience. Unique experiences do not occur frequently in this jaded world we live in and THAT is why I think everyone should go.

Always the economist, I wonder how this project is being funded. Everything from admission to the booklet was free. And the creation, maintainence and transportation of this project (its takes 51 tanks to transport this structure by boat!) is certainly not cheap!

Image Source: Chanel Mobile Art

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