Papercutting is a traditional Chinese art going back 2,000 years. The colored, intricately cut papers are used as a story-telling medium in festivities, for prayers, and as everyday decoration. The white bag takes its motif from a papercut created by Ai Weiwei as part of his Papercut Portfolio, published by TASCHEN in 2019: Zodiac, his depiction of the Chinese zodiac cast in bronze and gold according to historical models.
Limited edition of 2,500 copies
Designed by Ai Weiwei
White PVC bag with transparent inlay, 47 x 64.5 cm; passepartout for framing
“My work is often about redefining objects,” says Ai Weiwei. In his works, he uses prehistoric clay vases, antique furniture, demolished wooden pagodas, and the bicycles that were once omnipresent in China, and changes our perception of these objects. In the collector’s edition China Bags, Ai transfers the 2000-year-old cultural technique of the Chinese papercut to an everyday object: the tote bag. The China Bags are, on the one hand, art objects—which can be framed in the supplied passepartout and hung on the wall—and, on the other hand, they are fully functional, thanks to a transparent inner pocket. Ai Weiwei’s filigree laser-cut design and the transparent inlay are made of robust PVC plastic. The bag is released in a limited edition exclusively for TASCHEN.
Ai chose the papercut Zodiac as the motif for this white tote bag—a reference to the Zodiac water fountain designed by the Italian Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione for the court of the Qianlong Emperor (1711–1799). The zodiac water clock fountain is fabled for its precious bronze-plated sculptures of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. It was destroyed when British and French troops sacked the palace in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Only seven of the animal heads still exist, mostly in Western collections. For his installation Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads, which was exhibited in New York and Los Angeles, among other places, Ai Weiwei rendered all 12 heads in bronze and gold. He designed the five lost heads (dragon, snake, ram, rooster, and dog) himself, raising questions about authenticity and cultural appropriation. “Are they truly lost, or at the auction house?” Ai asks of the fate of the originals. “The missing zodiac heads may just show up next season, so we will see how they compare with our version.”
Limited edition of 2,500 copies
Born in Beijing in 1957, Ai Weiwei is renowned for making strong aesthetic statements that resonate across today’s geopolitical world. From architecture to sculpture and installations, social media to documentaries, he uses a wide range of media for new ways of artistically examining society and its values. He is the recipient of the 2015 Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International and the 2012 Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation. Ai’s first feature-length documentary Human Flow premiered at the 74th Venice Film Festival in competition. He currently lives and works in Cambridge and Berlin.
The picture frame seen here is for display purposes only; the bag is sold unframed in a passepartout.
This item is due to be delivered in mid-December. You will be kept up to date as to the progress of your order and delivery information throughout.
EU & International
For more information and pricing see the shipping information page here.
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