Many migrant workers in Beijing carry a certain type of bag made of duvet covers or other leftover textiles. The shape of the bag is as simple as it is ingenious. It solely consists of one rectangular piece of textile and features only two seams. Folded crosswise, the textile creates a bag which surprisingly holds a lot of volume, making it the perfect bag for workers who carry a great deal of luggage when coming to the city in search of employment.
This design vernacular was appropriated to create a series of bags. The textile chosen for the bags are repurposed red banners which are ubiquitous in China. The standard dimensions of the banners also makes it a suitable choice for this type of bag.
Used mostly for restaurant advertisements, messages of celebration from companies or schools, or for government regulation propaganda, it seems a perfect choice to make this makeshift bag from the leftovers of Chinese urban life.
In China, when I would ask if I could take a picture of somebody or something, the answer I heard the most was: ‘maybe’.
I soon discovered that in China ‘maybe’ is used in a different way than in the West. Sometimes ‘maybe’ is used as a polite way of saying ‘no’. But on other occasions people really just mean ‘maybe’.
‘Maybe Beijing’, the name of the bag, refers to the opportunity Beijing promises to all who arrive there. ‘Maybe Beijing’ also stands for the dream of enriching your life and becoming prosperous. — Nadine Stijns
Origin of the banners: NCUT (North China University of Technology) used to advertise the student ping pong tournament; Beijing Medical School, used to celebrate the 90 year anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party; various restaurants throughout Beijing, used for promotional announcements.