xu bing

Cigarettes won’t make you look cool… unless you do this with them! These “tiger-skin carpets” are made up of hundreds of thousands of cigarettes. Seriously. The first piece above was created from just over 500,000 cigarettes flipped both up and down to create the pattern, while the count for the second “rug” is 660,000. Insane. These beauties are the work of Chinese artist Xu Bing, and while they’re not new pieces, I just had to share them. Here’s a little more information from his site:

Top 3 Images : “First Class”, 2011 : A site-specific continuation of the Tobacco Project series, a project investigating the long and entangled relationship between human and tobacco. After executing the project in Durham (2000) and Shanghai (2004 – Bottom 3 Images), Xu Bing brought it to another important city related to tobacco: Richmond, Virginia, home of Philip Morris and mother company of the famous Marlboro cigarette brand. During the [two week] residency, he studied tobacco’s intimate relationship with the American continent and its early immigrant history. 

After a bit of digging I also found this description, which I think explains these pieces beautifully:

“Xu Bing uses tobacco—as a material and a subject—to explore a wide range of issues, from global trade and exploitation to the ironies of advertising a harmful substance. As a print and bookmaker, he is especially fascinated by the visual culture of packaging and marketing tobacco  …  The tiger-skin rug is a potent symbol of human prowess: it confirms our superiority by transforming one of nature’s fiercest predators into a lifeless skin beneath our feet. Tiger hunting, long a royal and aristocratic sport across South, Central, and East Asia, was also favored by colonizers from the West, whose increased firepower caused greater loss to their prey. Xu Bing’s piece exploits these associations with luxury, status, and domination. The beauty of the tiger-skin pattern, its allusions to the dangerous thrill of the hunt, and the uncanny allure of the massive display of cigarettes ironically glamorize the addictive pull and risks of smoking.” ~ Blackbird, Fall 2011

comments (1)

  1. Brooks /// 05.13.2020 /// 9:36am

    OMG! So beautiful and so fragile!!!!!!