Chanel Mobile Art 2.55 gets a 5
by Nikki +Cameron, Nixmusings
Mobile Art was commissioned by CHANEL and conceived by the company’s renowned designer Karl Lagerfeld. It was originally imagined as a means to mark the first appearance fifty years ago of the iconic CHANEL “2.55” quilted stitched-leather handbag. Designed by Coco Chanel, the 2.55 has evolved over the decades into one of the most enduring examples of 20thcentury fashion – a kind of cultural totem collected by museums and coveted by consumers in countries around the world. That bag and the traditions of the factory in France, where it is still made today, were presented to Zaha Hadid and the participating artists as jumping off points for their contributions to Mobile Art. The resulting exhibition is a multi-dimensional meditation on fashion as a powerful, exciting, sometimes perverse and occasionally poignant conductor of fantasy, identity, culture and self-expression.
Zaha Hadid’s response to Lagerfeld’s Mobile Art concept was to create a pavilion that, like a handbag, is a completely portable and functional container with vast symbolic potential. Made of highly engineered, gleaming white arched fiberglass-reinforced polymer panels, the architect’s enigmatic itinerant building is a sculpture in its own right. It is comprised of 700 components that, once assembled, appear to be a very distant abstraction the famous quilted CHANEL handbag. “There is a touch of quilting in the geometrical structure of the art Container,” added Karl Lagerfeld.
For Mobile Art, CHANEL assembled a roster of leading contemporary artists with the assistance of Fabrice Bousteau, curator and editor of the art magazine Beaux Arts, and invited each to empty his or her proverbial bag in a singular way. Representing different generations, diverse nationalities and wide-ranging points of view, this group of artists has engaged in an exploration of the handbag as a way to examine an array of experiences, ideas and issues suggested by the intersection of art, fashion and architecture.
Mobile Art launched its two-year worldwide tour in Hong Kong in February 2008, before traveling to Tokyo, where it has been on view at the National Yoyogi Stadium Olympic Plaza. Following its presentation in New York City, Mobile Art will travel to London and Moscow, concluding its tour in Paris in 2010.