China, that's what. Artist Qin Yufen has just unveiled Beijing 008 with the help of Aston Martin chieftains Ulrich Bez and Kenny Chen. The art installation brings together a ginormous tape measure, a quote about disorder, a statuary tribute to Stephen Hawking that hangs from the ceiling, and a V8 Vantage in a way that ambiguously represents the mystery held by the 21st century. That is, according to artist Yufen. We think the fuzzy meaning will make the work more accessible to the public at large, as any statements made by Yufen's work is deliberately soft-spoken and open to interpretation. It is a wine-and-cheese set kind of way to commemorate the opening of an Aston Martin dealership in China, too.
Aston Martin is a strong supporter of artistic endeavors, and this is one way to celebrate the brand's entrance into the Chinese marketplace. It's not necessarily the way we would've chosen (autocross inside the Forbidden City?), but it's one way. The high level of craft that's historically gone into Astons also dovetails nicely with the handmade nature of the artwork. Easily interpreted art is all well and good, but the moment you fire up that Vantage, the intent is clear - go fast, be coddled. At least they didn't cut the car up to make some kind of pointless statement.
[Source: Aston Martin]
August 14, 2008: 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 spectacular art installation celebrates the arrival of Aston Martin in China through a striking mix of traditional craft, iconographic imagery and sculpture.
Beijing 008 debuted before a select group of 100 VIPs on 5 August. Qin Yufen's artwork is a remarkable installation that brings together Chinese handicraft skills, theoretical physics and the undeniably 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.
Following the VIP reception, the artwork was shown to 120 members of the Beijing media, before 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.
Aston Martin has built up a strong relationship with contemporary art, supporting and commissioning new works as well as documenting the close relationship between the spirit of individual creativity represented by the artist and the collective creativity of industrial design.
Aston Martin is one of the world's most recognisable brands, acclaimed for its design acumen, iconic image and strong emphasis on innovation. Responsible for some of the finest sports cars of all time, Aston Martin combines traditional craft skills with high technology and beautiful design, building on over 90 years of history.
The Beijing Today Art Museum is a private, non-profit museum, the first of its kind in China, located in the city's Central Business District, close to the new Aston Martin Showroom. Founded by Mr Zhang Baoquan in 2002 as a non-governmental, non-profit organisation to promote Chinese art in the international market, it is set within a spectacular converted industrial boiler house designed by the architect Wang Hui.