Internationally-Renowned Colette Fu Builds World’s Largest Pop-Up Book at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center

  • PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania
  • /
  • September 07, 2017

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Colette Fu's Tao Hua Yuan Ji, is the world's largest pop-up book.

Representing a mythical cave in a Chinese peach blossom valley, the pop-up book

will be 21 feet long and nearly 5 feet tall

This fall, the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is chasing a world record for the largest pop-up photobook ever constructed, alongside internationally-renowned artist Colette Fu. The project, Tao Hua Yuan Ji, will begin on September 14 and continue through November 25, 2017. 

Tao Hua Yuan Ji, loosely translated to “Utopia: Source of the Peach Blossoms,” is inspired by Tao Yuanming, a Jin Dynasty (317-420) poet. Yuanming wrote of a traveler who came upon an isolated peach blossom valley beyond a cave, where people seeking political refuge lived an ideal life in harmony with nature and each other. Colette’s one-of-a-kind pop-up book will be a representation of the cave, measuring approximately 13.75′ x 21′ x 58” upon completion and breaking the Guinness World Record for world’s largest pop-up photobook. Visitors to the PPAC gallery will be mesmerized by the massive, intricate display of paper engineering, presenting a once in a lifetime artistic experience they won’t soon forget. The cave will be large enough for visitors to peer into the center, and even crawl through the four-foot-tall front opening. 

While the PPAC gallery will remain open during regular hours for the duration of the project (Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-6pm), special events for Tao Hua Yuan Ji include:

  • A Soft Opening: On September 14 at 6pm, coinciding with the Crane Arts building’s Second Thursday receptions, the book’s cover will be laid out and the show will begin installation.
  • Meet the Artist: On September 22 from 2-3:30pm, visitors are invited into the PPAC gallery to see Colette at work as she designs and builds the largest pop-up book in existence. As they watch the spectacle unfold, attendees can chat with Colette and learn about her construction process.
  • VIP Preview & Celebration Dinner: On September 27 at 6pm, up to 80 registered attendees will join Colette for an exclusive preview of the book, followed by outdoor dining and an open bar at Front Street Café.
  • Inaugural Book Opening & Measuring Ceremony: On October 12 at 6:30pm, the completed pop-up book will be unveiled before an audience for the first time, with attendees able to interact with and crawl inside the cave. The book will also be officially measured for the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • Saturday Book Openings: On Saturdays at 10:30am from October 14 – November 25, gallery visitors can look forward to a truly magical experience as the book is ceremoniously opened, revealing the pop-up cave each week.
  • ‘The Activated Book’ Panel: On October 25 from 6-8pm, Alexander Campos, Executive Director & Curator of The Center for Book Arts in New York City, leads a panel discussion with Colette and contemporary book artists, Tara O’Brien and Thomas Parker Williams.
  • Free Pop-Up Workshop with Colette Fu: On November 11 from 10:30am-1:30pm, Colette will lead a free workshop to teach attendees the basics of pop-up paper engineering.

Currently based in Philadelphia, Colette Fu received her MFA in Fine Art Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2003. Soon after, Colette began devising complex compositions that incorporate photography and intricate pop-up paper engineering. Her pop-up books are included in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Library of Congress, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the West Collection, as well as many private and rare archive collections. Colette’s numerous awards include a Fulbright Research Fellowship to China, and grants from the Independence Foundation, Leeway Foundation, En Foco, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Center for Emerging Visual Artists (CFEVA), New York Foundation for the Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Puffin Foundation and Society for Photographic Education.

Colette states, “My pop-ups are a way for me to speak and inform. My hope is that Tao Hua Yuan Ji invokes feelings of joy and wonder for the viewer, inspiring a curiosity to learn about the vanishing cultures of China and think globally beyond them."

“We are honored to host Colette as she presents this rare and exciting display of contemporary art, which serves to break down boundaries between the object and the viewer,” said PPAC’s CEO and Artistic Director Sarah Stolfa. “Colette’s art tells a story, and that story truly comes to life and captivates audiences each time her books are opened.”

Tao Hua Yuan Ji coincides with a solo exhibition from Colette at the Center for Emerging Visual Artists (CFEVA). Titled, New Works: For the Ancestors, a range of Colette’s elaborate pop-up books will be on display at CFEVA from October 19 – November 14, 2017.

Tao Hua Yuan Ji is made possible with the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. For more information on the schedule of events taking place at PPAC, visit here.


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