Polly Apfelbaum, “Miss Dior”
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
April 30th – May 31st, 2015
For the “Miss Dior” exhibition, Dior has commissioned fifteen female artists to produce a range of artworks inspired by the brand’s signature perfume. Drawing inspiration from the classical motif of the houndstooth, a key element of Dior’s language that adorns the packaging and the bottle itself, Polly Apfelbaum has created a monumental floor installation. Sharing in Dior’s audacity and the brand’s tradition of allying the new with the classical, the artist decided to create a work that reflects on this very notion by combining the houndstooth with her own color system.
The work was hand-woven using the traditional weaving techniques of Oaxaca, Mexico, to emphasize the motif’s origins, which was first found in woven woolen cloth. Being that Oaxaca is the center of an ancient Mesoamerican weaving tradition that dates as far back as 500 B.C., Apfelbaum paired with a weaver in Toetitlán del Valle. More important to this process than the handspun wool is obtaining the specified colors. Apfelbaum provided the artisan with a palette of thirty-two colors pulled from her 2012 series of Nirvana prints. Each thread was then custom dyed to match the artist’s previously devised color system, which is extremely labor-intensive and crucial to the weaving practice.