Think Different (How to hang workers' uniforms)
Ai Weiwei is one of the most influential Chinese artists. His performative and opinionated viewpoints and attitudes, as well as the global attention his works continue to draw, reflect the extreme strength of his personal challenge to Chinese social and political power. Specifically for this project, he presents 375 uniforms in six different colors, hung on a street in Örebro, Sweden. These uniforms come from Foxconn, a Taiwanese company with factories on mainland China. Foxconn is the world’s largest electronic technology manufacturer and Apple’s largest supplier. Mainland China has millions of migrant workers from the countryside working in such factories, and production using concentrated, intensive assembly lines has become a part of the typical world factory model.
Clothing is the body’s second skin, and it is the body’s barrier between public and private spaces. Clothing is not just a marker for a person’s lifestyle and times; uniforms are social symbols of political and economic forms and relationships. Ai Weiwei takes these uniforms as ready-mades that reflect and measure variations in reality, as a metaphor for the potential conflicts in China’s modernization process. The piece calls into question the social and environmental imbalances and dislocations brought about by rapid economic development. By focusing on the specific elements of real life, he achieves visual simplicity and powerful directness.
Text: Feng Boyi