A Vivienne Westwood and K11 exhibition in dialogue with Chinese contemporary art

New World Development’s Shanghai K11 Art Mall and K11 Art Foundation have just opened a ground-breaking Vivienne Westwood show titled “GET A LIFE”: a fusion of fashion and art, through the lens of activism.

The exhibition, co-curated by K11 and Westwood and her team, at the 3,000-sqm chi K11 art museum, traverses six themes from cutting edge fashion to environmental advocacy, and invites contemporary Chinese artists to respond to the icon’s work and vision within the same space.  This merging of subject matter and creative disciplines is pioneering for China.

The exhibition is open to the public until 28 February 2017.

Vivienne Westwood has always used her collections and catwalk shows as a platform to campaign for positive activism. She has spent many years tirelessly speaking out about the effects of climate change and overconsumption, and has mobilised international attention around ecological crusading. The exhibition, “GET A LIFE”, was curated to explore Westwood’s role as both an iconic designer and activist. On display are looks from Westwood’s latest campaigns as well as important archive collections including “Save The Rainforest” and “Mirror The World”.

As visitors journey through the six themes, they will come across Westwood’s various ecological philosophies presented through hand-drawn graphics, high profile campaigns such as Greenpeace “Save The Arctic”, which features a series of 60 star-studded photographs that were showcased in London’s Waterloo underground station in 2015, fashion film, photography, archive prints and illustrations. All will be displayed to showcase Vivienne Westwood’s ability to fuse fashion and social commentary, as well as K11’s commitment to bringing fashion and art to the public.

The installation will thus pose questions and prompt debates: can fashion be the vehicle that changes our environment? How will Westwood’s inspiring journeys in design, art and activism, in turn, motivate China and the rest of the world?

In response to the theme, and furthering K11 Art Foundation’s commitment to incubating emerging talent in Greater China, the sixth theme will feature artwork of seven Chinese artists and an artist group, including Sun Xun, Wu Junyong, Zhang Ruyi, Yu Honglei, Wang Congyi, Nathan Zhou and Zhu Xi. Curator of the show is Song Zhenxi, who titled it “Monument of the Peach Blossom Valley” as a tribute to the eponymous Chinese poem, a dream-like recount of the chance discovery of a utopia untouched by humans. It echoes and underscores Westwood’s message of climate change, challenging viewers’ definition of people, nature and society.

Cultural entrepreneur Adrian Cheng, founder of K11 and K11 Art Foundation, said, “It is my great pleasure to introduce this one-of-a-kind exhibition by Dame Vivienne Westwood to China. New World and K11 will continue to lead cross-platform collaborations in Greater China and we hope this exhibition will inspire people to talk more about the interconnecting relationships between fashion, art and the world in which we live.”

With the Vivienne Westwood “GET A LIFE” exhibition, Cheng hopes to inspire cultural exchange and creative exploration, epitomising the spirit of his own vision and philosophy: The Artisanal Movement and its mantra We Create, We Are Artisans. The Artisanal Movement is rooted in celebrating the original and sustainable and sharing the power of creativity to wider audiences.

Westwood, too, believes in the power of cultural exchange, especially with the influence of art. “We need art lovers because we are dangerously short of culture, which means we are short-sighted, blinkered in our thinking,” said the fashion designer. “Great art aims at perfection and is timeless; there is no progress in art… art is true.”

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