article of daily use, handbag, running shoes
internet file, colour original: fabric, embroidery, colour
DACHS 2009 Lei Feng, Li Ning Running shoes, Heidelberg catalogue entry
Mao´s words, everyday life, twenty-first century, handbag, amry bag, running shoes, Maoist aesthetics, advertising, Lei Feng, Serve the People, Little Red Book, Three Old Articles, Lao sanpian, Three Constantly Read Articles, model hero, contemporary China
Lei Feng Shoes from Li Ning (Li Ning de Lei Feng xie 李宁的雷锋鞋)
Perhaps the most powerful indication for the persistent popular importance of Mao’s words is their continued use in commercial advertising, in spite of the legal framework which actually prohibits such behavior. Products as different as a Lei Feng model running shoe by Chinese would-be Nike-rival Li’ning and Chinese Linux2000 software (see vid. 4.3) both use Mao’s words and Maoist aesthetics to sell their products (without interference by the government).
Marketed as a “national product,” the green Lei Feng shoe with its fur and red star-ornamentation in the style of model soldier Lei Feng’s “original” army attire carries the quotation “Serve the People” (为人民服务) undercover, on the back flap of the shoe. The shoe is sold together with a green army bag authentically embroidered in red. Openly and for all to see, shoe and bag and the little red notebook accompanying it are adorned (in some versions in relief all over the shoe) with a slightly parodied version of a quote from the Three Articles that simply reverses the order of the characters: 服务为民 (fuwu wei min) instead of 为人民服务 (wei renmin fuwu): To serve the People, and, significantly, using the recently popular Republican term for the people 民 (min) rather than the more clearly ideological 人民 (renmin). The visual impression of both bag and shoe, especially when looked at from afar, is quite “authentic.” Only upon looking closer does one realize that the quote has been tampered with.