The scarf takes its motif from a papercut created by Ai Weiwei as part of his Papercut Portfolio, which was published by TASCHEN in a signed and limited edition in 2019.
Using the traditional Chinese art of the papercut, Ai Weiwei’s Haircut reflects on an important event in the artist’s life and work: his participation in documenta XII in Kassel, Germany, in 2007, when he brought 1001 Chinese citizens to the city for his work Fairytale. They had responded to an open call Ai had posted on his blog, which was answered by more than 3000 applicants. He selected people belonging to every section of Chinese society including farmers, homemakers, police officers, street vendors, students, teachers, artists, and the unemployed. It was an extraordinary opportunity for many people who could otherwise never have traveled abroad—several had to apply for their first passport as a necessary condition for this “fairytale.” Ai designed clothes, suitcases, and other items especially for the participants, and—as dis- played in the papercut’s borders—also cut their hair in idiosyncratic fashion. The 1001 Chinese citizens were free to move around and do as they wished, except to leave the city; they were functioning both as spectators and part of an artwork. Their number correlated to another component of Fairytale, 1001 Ming (1368–1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) chairs that were installed in Kassel for the exhibition’s duration, shown in the upper right panel within the frame.