In a move that's sure to have the notoriously protective types at LVMH up in arms, a provocative New York-based artist has destroyed $12,000 worth of Louis Vuitton Alma handbags (above) for a new sculpture. Conceptual artist R. Lloyd Ming had an assistant purchase a dozen of the $1,000 bags at Louis Vuitton's Manhattan flagship over the holidays. He then cut them in half to make a sculpture for his new solo exhibit, "I Am Not Chinese." As the show's title suggests, the focus of the exhibit is China and what Ming calls the tenuous relationship between China and America, the artist's website notes. Ming's works addresses many controversial Chinese issues including censorship, capitalism under communist rule, trade imbalance and human rights.
"The work is called Vuitton Crucifix and it is a commentary on the new wealth and materialism that has been created in China," Ming says. "However it can also refer to America and many other societies. As a result of China's capitalist revolution the ranks of the rich and middle class are growing. However, capitalism often produces a culture of insecurity, were people can only find a sense of self worth or salvation through possessions and materialism. The Vuitton Crucifix sculpture is a reaction to this culture." Ming has previously used Dom Pérignon packaging in his sculptures, so he is no doubt already on LVMH's radar. He seems to be attempting to forestall any legal action by insisting that his assistant informed the Vuitton salespeople of his artistic intentions.