Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer Dr Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin China Chief Executive Officer Kenny Chen and the artist Qin Yufen have unveiled Beijing 008 at the city’s Today Art Museum in Beijing’s Chaoyang district. This interesting art installation celebrates the arrival of Aston Martin in China through a mix of traditional craft, iconographic imagery and sculpture.
Qin Yufen’s artwork is a remarkable installation that brings together Chinese handicraft skills, theoretical physics and the striking form of Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage.
Born in 1954, Qin Yufen lives and works in Beijing and Berlin. Her work explores the intersection between art, nature and technology, using natural materials, flowing fabrics and traditional processes to highlight the beauty of natural forms and their technological equivalents. Working closely with the Today Art Museum, its director Zhang Zikang and Senior Independent Curator Huang Du, Qin Yufen based the installation upon Professor Stephen Hawking’s statement that ‘disorder increases with time because we measure time in the direction in which disorder increases’.
The resulting structure embraces history, time, culture and speed. A giant tape measure, built from steel and wood and carefully covered in hundreds of hexagons of yellow-dyed silk, symbolises the importance of eternal standards. Within the measure itself, a 2.4m high structure, the artist has illuminated Hawking’s quote using bright yellow neon. The measure is set on a vast carpet, imprinted with the distinctive radial city map of Beijing, signifying the earth, while high above, in the Today Art Museum’s cavernous main gallery, fly a swarm of kites, a traditional symbol of the city. Each kite has been painstakingly made by hand, depicting the evolution of form from bird into sports car. Finally, the piece is completed by a sculpture of Professor Hawking himself.
Mixing Qin Yufen’s own cross-cultural background with the industrial found objects that feature so prominently in her work, Beijing 008 is a deliberately ambiguous work of art. As the artist states, Hawking’s quote operates on a number of levels, but for her it represented the ‘essentially mysterious nature’ of the 21st century. Every element of the structure – save for the V8 Vantage – was constructed at the artist’s own studio in Beijing or at nearby workshops.
The show was officially opened by Dr Ulrich Bez, Kenny Chen, Qin Yufen and Zhang Zikang in front of a crowd of 800 friends of the gallery and of Aston Martin China. Beijing 008 was on show at the Today Art Museum, and coincided with the spectacular opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games, held at the city’s new National Stadium, the ‘Bird’s Nest’.
The collaboration between Aston Martin and the Today Art Museum came at a critical time in China’s modern history, and marked the symbolic unification of East and West, as well as the arrival of a highly respected automotive brand into significant new markets and a globally respected gallery that has extensive experience of cultivating innovation.