What You Need to Know: Earlier this month, the multipart, multiday event “You Are the Best Rabbit—Xie Tian Art and Life Festival” premiered near the city of Hangzhou, China, in Changdai Village. Xie Tian, a designer, artist, and founder and design director of Hangzhou Yizhi Architecture Design Studio, was inspired to present and host the event in the area after visiting the region on another project. The event opened with a large-scale banquet, which featured a carefully curated menu by Xie Tian, and continued as a series of art projects. (2023) was comprised of 12 wooded doors from the 1980s and ’90s installed along the village road and used as exhibition walls. The doors were painted with colorful, abstract calligraphy, and a black-and-white ink rabbit—referring to the Chinese New Year—was hung. Elsewhere, 12 white neon rabbits were installed on the terraces of a tea garden. On January 22, the first day of the Lunar New Year, Xie Tian removed the neon rabbits from the tea garden and took them on a boat cruise that lasted from evening until sunrise, when they were permanently installed on Chaishan Island, marking the conclusion of the event.
Why We Like It: Xie Tian’s consideration for tradition, the contemporary, and the future are evident in every facet of the project—both the ephemeral elements and the permanent ones. Taking inspiration from the event’s location and the Lunar New Year, “You Are the Best Rabbit—Xie Tian Art and Life Festival” was a whimsical, emotionally complex endeavor that took into consideration not only the local community but the effect the project could have long-term. The average age of the permanent residents of Chaishan Island in the Zhoushan Archipelago is over 70 years old. By installing the rabbits on the island, and thus enhancing the visual appeal of the landscape for the residents, Xie Tian employs the rabbits as conduits for themes of companionship and good fortune. Additionally, the island has become somewhat of a tourist destination. By contributing the rabbits to the site, it can now hopefully attract even more tourists bringing more attention and resources to the relatively remote locale—and perhaps even attract a younger generation to relocate there.
According to the Artist: “On the evening of January 13, ‘You Are the Best rabbit—Xie Tian Art and Life Festival’ held a traditional country banquet, by inviting more than a hundred guests. Friends are the most valuable asset in life, an important bond between people and society, and the most valued emotion in Chinese tradition. To continue this bond, I invited my friends to join the sea cruise, extending this emotion from family and friendship to the gratitude to nature. It’s also a tradition most cherished by the Chinese people.
I think the key is allowing nature to take its course and traditions to develop freely at the present time, rather than only focusing on the changes in traditions. In the 21st century, it is unrealistic to restore the original traditions, but finding the spiritual core of the tradition and continuing in a new way is the wealth left for the future.”—Xie Tian
See images from the event below.