“Bagism” is a exhibition of luxury bags, appropriately held in an underground gallery beneath three floors of shops which sell them. Curators Elizabeth Azoulay and Liu Pinyu define their subject, apparently without irony, as ‘a satellite to the human body [that] enables small objects to be carried in one single object.’ With more than 300 bags on display, this is a clumsy but expansive show with some incredible pieces on display. There is, for example, La Pretiosa de Leonardo, a handbag designed by Da Vinci around 1497, inaugurating the vogue for artist-meets-designer accessories which fill an entire room of the show. While a focused exhibition on the cultural history of the bag would have been welcome, scattered amongst the museum pieces are works of art with a more or less tenuous relationship to the bags themselves. Hu Weiyi presents a striking video installation comprising webcams mounted inside suggestively gaping handbags, while in Pixy Liao’s delicious “Homemade Sushi” (2010), the artist muses on gender relations by tying her naked Japanese boyfriend up into human sushi. Eyeing up the camera, the boyfriend’s expression suggests that he’d prefer a more heteronormative role.
- ‘Bagism’, installation view K11 Art Space, Shanghai. Courtesy: © ch K11 Art Space, Shanghai