The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei received a shipment of garments from 14 up-and-coming fashion designers with instructions to photograph the clothes for the readers of V magazine in whatever manner he chose. He decided to douse them with paint.
The anarchic results, captured in a story for the Nov. 13 issue of the fashion and art publication, are comical, violent and joyful. Instead of creating traditional images that hold the clothes in esteem, romanticize their imperfections or fetishize their lines, the artist treated them like blank canvases that are transformed by both the person wearing them and by circumstances. Which is to say, the artist suggests the infinite possibilities in a single frock.
“Pouring a color on an outfit creates a new condition for the design,” Weiwei says. “It creates a midpoint between two conflicting ideas. Gravity and the shape of the clothes combine to create a unique moment. Using these cultural products as ready-mades celebrates and reinterprets the intention of creativity. I think this act shows my respect toward their creativity.” Incidentally, this project mirrors its forebear in at least one unplanned way: “For the last ten years, these 14 colors have existed in our studio color chart for the production of Colored Vases,” he explains. “It’s a complete coincidence that we had these 14 colors for exactly 14 outfits.”