“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
Ai Weiwei The China Bag ‘Zodiac’
White PVC bag with transparent inlay, 47 x 64.5 cm, passepartout for framing
Levertijd: 1-2 werkdagen
The picture frame seen here is for display purposes only; the bag is sold unframed in a passepartout.