paris: er xi

© le bon marché / photography: gabriel de la chapelle / ai weiwei - le heluo

le bon marché's annual white sale is a not-to-be-missed event for rive gauche parisians, but this year it gets a playful and evocative twist with the help of ai weiwei, china's shining star in the world of contemporary art. for his first ever collab with the luxury department store, the much talked about artist delves into his childhood memories – not surprisingly, the showcase is entitled er xi or child's play – drawing inspiration from shan hai jing, a collection of epic tales as old as the 4th century which has been told to chinese kids for many generations. the artist has picked characters from these tales and brought them to life across the premises of le bon marché.

in collaboration with wong yong xun, a master kite maker from the coastal shandong province in northeastern china, no less than 24 characters were recreated, using merely bamboo and lightweight silk. the er xi exhibition has pretty much taken over all of le bon marché with ten storefront window installations, the gallery space, where a dragon of woven bamboo is on display, and last but not least, the venue's light-filled atriums where a series of intricately crafted three-dimensional characters dangle from the ceiling [on through feb 20]. location: le bon marché, 24 rue de sèvres [st.-germain].

© le bon marché / photography: gabriel de la chapelle / ai weiwei - taifeng and tianwu [top to bottom]