The Mobile Chanel Art Exhibit

zaha hadid oavilion mobile chanel exhibit

Luxury brand Chanel has launched an exhibition called Mobile Art in Hong Kong’s Central district February 26, 2008, which will be traveling around the globe over the next two years.

The Mobile Chanel Art Exhibit

The Mobile Chanel Art Exhibit

Housed in a futuristic pavilion resembling a spaceship designed by Zaha Hadid, the exhibition shows artist interpretations of the iconic Chanel quilted 2.55 handbag.

About The Show:
Artists and photographers such as Araki, Loris Cecchini and Michael Lim will present their work alongside Yoko Ono’s interactive Wish Tree, where you can write down your desires on rice paper. After Hong Kong, the exhibition will move to Tokyo, before hitting New York, London, Moscow and Paris.

About The Concept:
lagerfeld hadid

the press release:
MOBILE ART is a traveling exhibition devised as a three-dimensional film and presented in a futuristic pavilion specially created by the architect Zaha Hadid.

Mobile art pavilion for Chanel by Zaha Hadid

The creative concept of MOBILE ART is the result of an aesthetic experiment conducted over the last two years in which the values and visual language of CHANEL confronted those of some twenty contemporary artists from all geographic and generational origins.

Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion, Zaha Hadid, sections and Coatroom
Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion, Zaha Hadid, sections and Coatroom

Invited to visit Mademoiselle Chanel’s Parisian apartment, rue Cambon, and the workshops where the CHANEL handbags are made, these artists were given complete freedom to create artworks inspired by the elements that create the identity of CHANEL’s emblematic accessory, the quilted bag.

All means of expression currently being used in contemporary art will be represented: installation, sculpture, photography, video, sound etc…

MOBILE ART is not so much an exhibition to be visited as a landscape to wander through in a completely new way: to experience the artists’ installations, visitors equipped with a MP3 player must let themselves be guided mentally and physically by a soundtrack created by the label “Soundwalk” in collaboration with each of the artists. This soundtrack mixes the original music of a diverse range of artists with voice and ambient sound effects.

The Mobile Chanel Art Exhibit

MOBILE ART is above all a new form of artistic expression, an unique experience, combining architecture, art, sound creation and fashion.

Mobile art pavilion for Chanel by Zaha Hadid - if it's hip, it's here

Chanel commissioned around 20 artists, including Yoko Ono and the Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, to produce works for the show loosely based on its famous bag.

chanel mobile art exhibit

The artists were taken to Coco Chanel’s Paris apartment and shown how the bags were made. The resulting works include sound installations, sculpture and video.

The moving art gallery, designed by the award-winning British architect Zaha Hadid, who is designing London’s Olympic Aquatics Centre, is currently parked on a rooftop next to Hong Kong’s famous harbour.

Mobile art pavilion for Chanel by Zaha Hadid

Mobile art pavilion for Chanel by Zaha Hadid - if it's hip, it's here

But it will be painstakingly taken apart and rebuilt in a few weeks’ time, when the exhibition, which ends April 5, moves to Tokyo on the second leg of a two-year world tour that will take it to New York, London, Moscow and Paris.

The 180-ton pavilion was built in Yorkshire in northern England. It was shipped to Hong Kong — piece by piece — in more than 50 cargo containers.

A team of builders spent four weeks rebuilding the pavilion in its new harbourside location, and it will take another 20 days to ship the 700 individual pieces that make up the building from Hong Kong to Tokyo.

When Hadid and Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel got together to realize their dream of a traveling museum, they named Fabrice Bousteau, editor-in-chief of Beaux Arts magazine, as the curator.

Fabrice Bousteau, Zaha Hadid, Karl Lagerfeld discussing the building in July of 2007

Visitors are encouraged to wear headphones to listen to music specifically designed to enhance the artwork.

Fabrice Bousteau, Curator of Mobile Art Exhibition said “This exhibition is totally new because it was conceived like a real landscape and a 3-dimensional film which comes to life with visitors and with headphones.”

Karl Lagerfeld & Zaha Hadid, Chanel "Mobile Art" Pavilion
Karl Lagerfeld & Zaha Hadid, Chanel “Mobile Art” Pavilion, 2007

Bousteau says the exhibit is intended to be experimental — and to move art away from the more traditional museum setting.

Fabrice Bousteau said “Mobile Art in my view is an expression of utopia and the future. It’s a completely weird architectural project because it’s the first building in the world which will travel, which will circulate and which is nomadic.”

About the Art:


The artists were told to base their creation on the best-selling Chanel quilt bag, called 2.55 after its month and year of issue.
classic chanel quilt bag

After the French artist Sophie Calle received Chanel’s commission, she advertised in a Japanese magazine in the fall of 2006 seeking an artist to carry out her project. She wanted to stop passersby, tell them to empty their bags, and offer to buy both contents and carrier. Soju Tao signed up, and the result of this collaboration will be shown at the exhibition.

The Artworks Inside The Pavilion
The artworks inside include a giant sculpture of a black Chanel handbag that encases a video. By Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury:

Sylvie Fleury giant chanel bag

chanel mobile art exhibit sylie giant chanel bag
above: Staff stand next to Crystal Custom Commando 2007-2008 by Sylvie Fleury as part of a global art exhibition unveiled by top fashion brand Chanel in Hong Kong.

There’s also a work featuring two stuffed pigs next to encased Chanel handbags. It’s called “Jesus Love and 2 Handbags” and it’s by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye.

wim delvoye, pigs and chanel
A photographer takes a photo of Jesus and Chanel Bags by Wim Delvoye.

Araki, known for his erotic photographs, will put up a slide show “The Dance of the Seven Veils,” depicting the image of a young woman untangling herself of Chanel bag chains transposed against languid, close-up shots of poisonous flowers. Music by Fumio Yasuda and vocals by Aki accompany the exhibit.

Paying homage to Coco Chanel, founder of the fashion house, South Korea’s Lee Bul builds a plastic sculpture, lit from the inside, and crowned with hundreds of re-assembled bags and chains.

chanel mobile art exhibit installation
Untitled 2008″ by French artist Daniel Buren

Visitors will be guided through the tunnels in the exhibition hall with an iPod presentation by Stephan Crasneanscki, a French photographer and sound artist who works under the title Soundwalk.

Subodh Gupta has a video installation in two parts called “All Things Are Inside,” reflections on people in transit and their aspirations, such as the life of an Indian laborer who returns from prosperous Dubai where he packed gifts.

Near the end of the tunnel lies Ono’s “Wish Tree,” where visitors may write a wish on a piece of rice paper and tie it to the branches of a tree, which will be collected and sent to the Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavik, Iceland, a tribute to Lennon based on his peace anthem, “Imagine.”

Ono, a veteran at mixing social, political and corporal elements into her performances, will participate alongside Tabaimo, a 32-year-old Japanese video artist who exhibited her “Doll House” installation at the 2007 Venice Biennale.

Japanese artist Tabaimo designed a black hole with graphic animation. It’s her interpretation of unlocking the secrets hidden inside a handbag.

Japanese artist Tabaimo
above: Tabiamo’s piece in the exhibit

Personal fantasies and visions of the world are celebrated in the work of photographic duo Pierre & Gilles. Italian Loris Cecchini, on the other hand, distorts reality physically and visually – from cinema chairs that crumble into themselves to optical illusions of people climbing up buildings.

Other artists at the show include the U.S. photographer Stephen Shore of Andy Warhol’s The Factory fame, whose images highlight social issues; fellow American David Levinthal; Russia’s Blue Noses; Sylvie Fleury of Switzerland; Y.Z. Kami from Iran; and Argentina’s Leandro Erlich.

For more information, please visit

VENUE: Star Ferry Car Park – Central, Hong Kong
EXHIBITION PERIOD: 27 February – 5 April, 2008 (Venue closed on 12 & 13 March)
SOUNDWALK: Approximately 35 minutes Available in Cantonese, Mandarin, English, French and Korean

Mobile Art is at Star Ferry Car Park, 9 Edinburgh Place, Central, Hong Kong.
For information and tickets, go here. (No longer available)