Olympic Air (2008)Wooden trestles, cardboard, plastic bags, air gathered from the sites of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In 2007 a Beijing-based company (Beijing Lunar Village Aeronautics Science and Technology) attempted to sell plastic bags filled with air sourced from German stadiums that hosted matches of the 2006 World Cup. Each bag of air was priced at 50 yuan (€5). A Beijing court intervened, however, preventing the company from selling this commodity by ruling that “air is too vague and unstable a concept to be covered by commercial classifications.” The same hesitation over commodifying “vague and unstable concepts” does not hold on the streets of Berlin, where this action took place in September 2008. Perhaps the Chinese authorities were not ready to make the cognitive leap from mimesis to metaphor that is required to see a specific category of air as the sort of thing that can be bottled and sold.