Renowned artist Xu Bing has had a preoccupation with the tabacco industry for over a decade, and his latest creation is a phenomenal testament to his dedication to the topic. Modelled after a tiger-skin patterned rug, Bing used cigarettes as an artistic medium in '1st Class, 2011' project, standing half a million smokes on their ends to form the wide-spanning floor sculpture.
This installation is just one part of the prolific artist’s Tobacco Project which examines the culture and production of tobacco from the perspective of this contemporary Chinese artist. Laid out across the exhibition hall at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the ‘rug’ transforms the cigarettes into a creative material, unearthing contemporary and historical ideas about this powerful industry.
Inspired by recent visits to tobacco farms and cigarette factories in Virginia, Bing’s extensive collection of work explores themes from global trade to marketing and packaging and the exportation of tobacco products. The exhibition will be on view until December 4th, before it tours to Connecticut. If you are in the area, it is a must-see show.
Images courtesy of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts