Ai Weiwei’s Fashion Collaboration a Fiasco

The model's in Ai Weiwei's V Magazine fashion editorial (right) included fellow political activists Photo: V Magazine via The Washington Post

If a magazine sent you a heap of clothes by emerging designers to photograph, what would you do? The Washington Post reports that when V Magazine asked artist Ai Weiwei to photograph fourteen outfits for a fashion editorial, he decided to splash paint all over the intricately constructed garments.

Unsurprisingly, the young designers weren’t exactly thrilled by the resulting images. Shaun Samson, whose quilted jacket and shorts fell victim to Ai’s paint, told the Washington Post: “I don’t know if it’s sad or positive that he decided to do the project this way,” adding that the editorial “raises questions.” Samson concluded that “you can come up with your own understanding of it.”

The result of Ai’s foray into fashion photography shouldn’t really come to a surprise to people familiar with his body of work. The artist and political activist has famously covered a Neolithic Age-vase with paint. His art also often includes thinly veiled criticisms of China’s totalitarian regime. In the past the Chinese government has arrested, interrogated and placed him under house-arrest. He is currently not allowed to leave China.

Ever the provocateur, Ai did not let his rocky relationship with the Chinese authorities deter him from using V Magazine as a platform to further propagate his political message. Some of the models selected by the artist for the editorial include studio assistants and fellow anti-government activists.

 


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