To explore how trust is positioned within a society, by looking at how Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, transforms his ideals to a multi-billion company and how Alibaba commercializes Single's Day to the largest shopping holiday.
This is a 2-month investigative design project which was selected to be exhibited together with 8 other selected Design Academy Eindhoven alumni at Geo-Design, Alibaba: From here to your home, curated by Joseph Grima and Martina Muzi, took place at van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven from 13 October to 11 November 2018 and during Salone del Mobile 2019.
Sound designed by Yuval Reuven. Photo by Nicole Marnati.
Singles' Day is a Chinese Holiday that has been successfully co-opted by Alibaba. Initially created to celebrate not being in a relationship, today the holiday is the largest shopping day on Earth. This short film, displayed in multiple screens, composed of found footage and images gathered from the internet, unpacks the cultural impact of the Alibaba Group in Chinese society, exploring how traditional Chinese socio-political values and Western-style consumerism coexist, how values are active parts of social narratives and how they are often commodified in contemporary online practices.
Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba as well as one of the richest men in China (with a personal wealth of more than $36 billion). He is also one of the strongest voices for global change, social progress, technological innovation, and cross-cultural interdependence—values that not only manifest in entrepreneurial speeches and future-oriented business strategies but are also commodified in contemporary social consumer practice. This phenomenon reaches its peak on “Singles Day”, a Chinese holiday on 11/11 that was co-opted by Alibaba to become the biggest shopping day on earth. The astonishing amount of money spent on Singles Day highlights the cultural impact that the booming e-commerce industry has had on China’s middle class.
Double 11 uses found footage, news clips, and interviews to assemble a portrait of Jack Ma and Singles Day with multiple conflicting narratives. On one hand, it reveals Ma’s visionary quality and rhetorical power in surmounting cultural and political obstacles associated with global business, particularly a lack of trust or comprehension between Western and Chinese companies. In his modest and candid tone, Ma succeeds in depicting the looming paradigm shift in geopolitics as an era of connectivity and cooperation between people all over the world, including full emancipation of women, through the continuous growth of consumerism and the facilitation of increased entrepreneurialism at every scale from the individual to the multinational conglomerate. But the clips of compulsive shopping, celebrity spectacles, and materialist discontent hint at the socioeconomic conditions necessary to fuel Ma’s borderless utopia.