You’ve Got Mail! Post Your Art To Hangzhou, China

Fu Dai (Lucky Bag) Exhibition 2014

Calling all artists! Chinese curator and TDN journalist Joe Zhu is looking to exhibit your ‘Lucky Bags’;  that is, original art that is sent through the post and sold — unopened — to a curious buyer…

We’ve all been given lucky bags as children; enthralled with the hope that we will strike fortune and find a real treat inside — sweets or toys or stories. But what about a lucky bag containing original artwork? Chinese curator Joe Zhu wants to do exactly that with his upcoming exhibition Fu Dai, which translates as ‘Lucky Bag’, at SanShang Contemporary Art Museum in Hangzhou, China, this March.

Back by popular demand after a successful exhibition in 2014 at the same venue, and focusing on the charm of opening an unexpected gift, Zhu’s exhibition of Fu Dai will be based entirely on artworks sent through the post. Inspired by the Japanese tradition of New Year shopping, a cultural custom known as fukubukuro (translation, again: lucky bag), where merchants sell mystery grab bags to hopeful shoppers, Zhu remodels this idea of mystery to rebrand works of art as gifts. “The reason I’m using Fu Dai as the core idea”, Zhu told us, “is to play with the overly consumerist nature of global culture, especially art. The result could turn out to be a great surprise.”

“Fu Dai is set to be a core exhibition of SanShang Contemporary Art Museum’s wider, annual show Spring Is Coming (春天来了)”

Zhu’s Fu Dai is set to be a core exhibition of SanShang Contemporary Art Museum’s wider, annual show Spring Is Coming (春天来了), which takes place after Chinese New Year as a communal celebration of the arts. The exhibition, scheduled to open Saturday 5 March 2015, is throwing out an open invitation to artists worldwide to send Lucky Bags. Whether this is your first exhibition or 100th, the project does not care for experience or establishment; it simply requests diverse artistic responses from across the globe for museum visitors — and potential art collectors — to receive.

Fu Dai (Lucky Bag) Exhibition 2014

Zhu encourages absolute creativity; there are no rules regarding the content of submissions other than that it must be able to be sent through the mail. “It could be a drawing, a scribble, a letter, or a can of your local air or dirt — as you must be aware of the pollution here in China.” A signature on the package must be included (ideally on the courier’s sticker), and the exterior of the package can be decorated however you see fit — again, playing into the themes of artistic consumerism in order to attract a buyer who doesn’t know what the lucky bag, or parcel, contains.

“The Fen Dai will be sold to buyers at the exhibition for 100 Chinese Yuan, roughly equivalent to £10″

The Fen Dai will be sold to buyers at the exhibition for 100 Chinese Yuan, roughly equivalent to £10, and this money will return to you as the artist; although Zhu offers the choice to donate it to the SanShang Contemporary Art Museum, which remains the only non-profit contemporary art space in Hangzhou.

Fu Dai (Lucky Bag) Exhibition 2014

Only once the Lucky Bags have been sold will they be opened, and the owner may choose to auction it off in the closing ceremony, or keep it for themselves — the idea that no one knows whose hands the art pieces will end up in is a part of the charm of the exhibition, hereby underlining the concept that art is created to be shared, enjoyed, and passed on. An accredited catalogue of all the pieces in the exhibition will be produced by the museum.

On reflecting upon the first year of Fu Dai during Spring Is Coming 2014, Zhu explained: “We invited artists to come and hang their paper-based works anywhere they wanted in the gallery, under the principle of ‘first come, first served’. The white walls of the gallery were quickly transformed into pin-boards of multifarious artworks, hung at every conceivable angle with some artists even bypassing the paper and writing straight on the wall.

“The event truly encapsulated the human ability to transform blank spaces into outlets of artistic expression, as over 260 artists ended up contributing to the project!” – and now this year, the SanShang Contemporary Art Museum is seeking artistic works on a wider, more creative scale. Wait a minute, Mister Postman!

Vanessa Wheeler

Would you like to sell your artwork as a Fu Dai (Lucky Bag)? Please send your packages to: 

Joe Zhu, Sanshang Contemporary Art Museum, 52-2,South Yan’an Road, Hangzhou, China, 310000.

Deadline: Saturday 5 March 2016.

If you have any further questions, contact curator Joe Zhu via email:

Posted on 27/01/2016 by thedoublenegative