Alibaba and the 40 thieves

40 carpets purchased on

Alibaba and the 40 thieves refers to the well-known story from the ancient collection The Thousand and One Nights in which the humble Ali Baba is seduced by the riches and treasures from the thieves and saved from harm by his domestic servant Morgiana. Today, the name Ali Baba refers as much to the largest e-commerce platform in China as these magical tales. Established in 1999, its success is a contemporary tale of how consumer behavior has been transformed in China, and around the world.

A collection of mass-produced carpets, purchased online via, brings these two stories into dialogue. The carpets come in a plethora of shapes, colors and cultural motives reflecting the glamour of choice, domesticity, and cultural legacy.

The work was produced for the 11th Shanghai Biennale Why not ask again, curated by Raqs Media Collective