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Posted in Uncategorized on July 20, 2014
On July 17, The Ninth Wave, a fishing boat from the artist’s hometown of Quanzhou carrying 99 fabricated animals, navigated along the Bund on the Huangpu River, ultimately landing at PSA’s Great Hall. On the boat, tigers, pandas, camels and other animals appear weather-beaten with their heads bowed, as though seasick from the currents of our times.
The work was inspired by Russian painter Ivan Aivazovsky’s 1850 eponymous painting, which famously depicted survivors from a shipwreck clinging to a mast as in the last throes of survival, expressing human’s helplessness in the face of nature’s unforgiving forces.
Cai Guo-Qiang: The Ninth Wave at the Power Station of Art opens August 8 in Shanghai with daytime ‘explosion event’ Elegy to shed light on China’s environmental issues.
Video produced by 33StudiosNY.
Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2014
To commemorate its 30th Anniversary, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain opened Vivid Memories, an exhibition that reflects upon the history of the foundation, along with the relationships with artists and curators that it has formed and nurtured over time.
During his three months at Fondation Cartier, Cai collected flowers, distilled perfumes, and cooked medicinal pellets; both he and his wife, Hong Hong, made art while enjoying the same sunlight as the Impressionists. For the occasion of the exhibition, Cai reflected upon his time at the residency in 1993 and created Cai and Hong Hong at Fondation Cartier, 1993, a multimedia installation that incorporates his collection of objects, along with the artworks created by both Cai and his wife, Hong Hong Wu while in France.
Posted in Uncategorized on May 6, 2014
There’s only one more week to see Falling Back to Earth. The exhibition has had the second-highest attendance rates, after the 2007-2008 exhibition on Andy Warhol. There have already been over 200,000 visitors, making it one of the most successful ticketed exhibitions in Australia!
Be sure to see the exhibition before it closes!
Posted in Uncategorized on April 25, 2014
The Yatai Museum of Contemporary Art took place on April 12-13, 2014, in Iwaki, Fukushima, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the friendship between Cai Guo-Qiang and Iwaki at the Snake Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA). Co-founded by Cai Studio and the Iwaki Board for the Project to Plant Ten Thousand Cherry Blossom Trees, SMoCA opened in Iwaki Fukushima, Japan last year. The opening of SMoCA marked the inauguration of the Project to Plant Ten Thousand Cherry Blossom Trees. This year, artist Cai Guo-Qiang acted as the director of SMoCA. Expanding upon last year’s project, three events were held to commemorate the twenty-year friendship between the artist and Iwaki:
Ⅰ. Yatai Museum of Contemporary Art (YMoCA):
Residents from Iwaki set up multiple yatai—or small, mobile food stands that prepare and sell small dishes—creating small dishes using local produce that were safe to consume. The gesture was meant to dispel any rumors that local seafood and agricultural products may be contaminated by nuclear radiation. Local residents also made handicrafts, which were for sale at the museum, transforming the site into a flea market. In addition, children’s drawings and sculptures were also on display at SMoCA.
Ⅱ. Harajuku Kawaii (“cute”) Culture in Iwaki
Invited by artist Cai Guo-Qiang, Sebastian Masuda, one of the pioneers of Harajuku street culture in Tokyo, along with the band Nikoman brought a wave of Harajuku kawaii (“cute”) culture for the people and children in Iwaki village.
With assistance from the Iwaki Board, Sebastian Masuda organized a children’s workshop Let’s Make Some Kawaii Lanterns! with a local elementary school. Children were invited to design and make their own lanterns using kawaii, or “cute” materials, such as brightly colored soft toys, balls, and beads brought by Masuda. After the workshop, the children brought their works to SMoCA, and decorated the structure with their creations.
Ⅲ. Over a period of time, volunteers in Iwaki worked hard to extend SMoCA from 99 meters to 150 meters, linking the museum with Kaikou—The Keel (Returning Light—The Dragon Bone), a large-scale outdoor installation permanently installed on the hilltop of Tateyama, which has become a new local landmark.
Twenty Years of Friendship between Cai Guo-Qiang and Iwaki
The friendship between artist Cai Guo-Qiang and the town of Iwaki, Fukushima, began in 1994. Local volunteers helped the artist realize Cai Guo-Qiang: From the Pan-Pacific, a landmark solo exhibition in his artistic career at the Iwaki City Art Museum, by excavating a fishing boat from the beach for the installation Kaikou－The Keel (Returning Light－the Dragon Bone). Cai was also able to fund the 5,000-meter long night-time explosion project, The Horizon from the Pan-Pacific: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 14, through contributions from the Iwaki people; local residents each sponsored 2,000 yen (about US$20) for one meter of gunpowder fuse. In 2004, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the realization of The Horizon from the Pan-Pacific: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 14, the same team of volunteers and friends in Iwaki excavated another big boat from the same beach. Together with the boat, they traveled tens of thousands of miles to America for Cai’s exhibition at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The resulting installation work, Reflection—A Gift from Iwaki, has since toured all over the world; it has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Guggenheim Museum in New York and in Bilbao; the Taipei Fine Arts Museum; and Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain, Nice. Every time the work is exhibited, the team from Iwaki follows the vessel and assembles it onsite. The friendship between Iwaki and the artist and the passage of time have become the core themes of the work.“We emerged from that small fishing village together and stepped out into the world,” said Cai Guo-Qiang, “Now our hair is turning white and our limbs are not as deft as they once were, yet thanks to art, we have stood by each other through thick and thin [even when our nations quarrel]. The heartfelt friendship of over two decades that I share with the people of Iwaki is rare and precious. Iwaki not only set the stage for my career early on, but it also gave me encouragement and recognition.”
In August 2012, the Iwaki team traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, to assist with the installation of Reflection—A Gift from Iwaki during Cai’s solo exhibition, A Clan of Boats, at the Faurschou Foundation. With generous support and advocacy from the Foundation, the Project to Plant Ten Thousand Cherry Blossom Trees was able to move forward, and the funds raised enabled cherry trees to be planted on an entire mountain. In October of the same year, Cai was honored at the 24th Praemium Imperiale with a Lifetime Achievement award in the Arts (Painting). He decided at once to donate his award earnings—15 million yen in total (approx. US$150,000). Half was given to the Asian Cultural Council to sponsor young Japanese artists to pursue advanced studies in New York, and the other half was used to realize SMoCA and to complete the cherry blossom project.
Co-founded by Cai Studio and the Iwaki Board for the Project to Plant Ten Thousand Cherry Blossom Trees, the Snake Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) opened with an inaugural exhibition in 2013. As part of artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s conceptual series Everything is Museum, SMoCA subverts the definition of a traditional art museum. The artist initiated a community effort for the realization of SMoCA, and local residents and volunteers helped build a 99-meter long winding corridor with trees contaminated by radiation from the 11 March 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Meandering quietly across the mountains, the “museum” winds through the land on which 10,000 future cherry trees will be planted. The artist hopes the museum will become a space where the residents of Iwaki can bond with their children and let their dreams fly free.
Sponsors: Education Committee of Iwaki, Iwaki City Art Museum, Fukushima Minpo News, Fukushima Minyu News, and Iwaki Minpo News
Posted in Uncategorized on March 27, 2014
Cai and two of the studio members have left New York for warmer weather. This time, they’re in Argentina—on a site visit hosted by Fundación Proa. While a number of us are still in the New York studio, we’ve been channeling the warm vibes of Argentina. With the Noreaster just missing the city, it’s difficult to imagine being warm again; fortunately for us, Fundación Proa has been keeping us posted of their travels (and weather) as Cai and the team make their way through the country, making it easier to live vicariously! For more photos of Cai’s adventures through Argentina, be sure to check out Fundación Proa’s Facebook!
Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2014
“Jan’s self-confidence and ambition about art often makes the artists’ fancies go bolder and wilder.”
– Cai Guo-Qiang, originally published in Day Dreaming: Cai Guo-Qiang, 1998, p. 9
Realized in front of S.M.A.K. (Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst), Ghent, Belgium, on March 5, 2014, the black cloud, with puffs of white smoke, represents the tenth collaboration between Jan Hoet and Cai Guo-Qiang.
Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2014
Belgian curator Jan Hoet curated the first site-specific installation exhibition in the world. In 1986, he invited dozens of artists to Ghent, Belgium. The artists were asked to stay with local residents in their houses, in which they dined and created artworks. When the exhibition opened, visitors were invited to follow a map to visit the houses one by one. It caused quite a sensation in the contemporary art scene at that time. Jan used to be an artist when he was young, and was elected to represent Belgium to participate in the “青年双年展” hosted by Centre Pompidou. When he was on his way back to Ghent on a train after the site visit to Paris, for hours he could not think of any interesting ideas, and he felt he lacked the talent to be an artist. That was when he figured he should change his career, and decided to become a curator.
In Ghent, there was a big casino in the park. Jan wanted to transform it into a contemporary art museum. For quite some time, the Chamber of Representatives did not approve this proposal, because the casino played a significant role in the city’s economy. Later on, Jan ran for Chamber of Representative. During his campaign, I saw his portrait printed on garbage trucks in the city. Finally, he was elected. At the chamber’s meeting, he said, “If you don’t agree with my proposal, I will reject everyone’s.” Therefore, the representatives voted yes, and Jan’s bill was passed. The casino was transformed into a museum. Immediately after the bill passed, Jan resigned.
Jan and I collaborated with each other on nine occasions. The first one was in 1995 in Aoyama, Tokyo. I was still living in Japan then. Jan invited a lot of established artists to create artworks for the show. The site that I was interested in was a kindergarten; however, he wanted to assign it to another artist. We argued about it. I explained my concept to him: “My idea is to create a bamboo bridge from the kindergarten, the bridge will cross the wall and arrive at Aoyoma Cemetery on the other side.” Jan’s concern was that bridge might not look like an ‘artwork’ (or would not be artistic enough). He was also worried that using kindergarten might interfere with the artwork of the artists he liked. Jan came to inspect the bridge when it was complete; we both walked on the unstable structure. All of a sudden he happily patted my shoulder, saying “Good, good good.” The unstable bridge eased his unsettledness. In this way, he felt the strengths and tension in art.
When Jan turned sixty in 1996, he invited me to Ghent to create a piece that would be acquired by S.M.A.K: Stedelijk Museum Voor Actuele Kunst. I suggested that I would explode a piece on the wall, inside the museum’s storage space. Jan got very excited about it, and understood that I was causing him trouble; the work would be collected by the museum, but the visitors would never be able to see it. After the work was exploded on the wall, I asked him to sign the contract in front of everyone, and agree to acquire the piece. I exploded a dinosaur on the wall, naming the work: Dragon Skeleton/Suture of the Wall—True Collection (1996). Men like collecting dinosaurs; museums around the world collect fossils and skeletons of dinosaurs. After Jan signed the contract, he whispered: “I plan to open the storage for the visitors regularly.” Curators and artists sometimes compete with each other to mutually improve.
In 1999, the museum (S.M.A.K.) was finally built from the former casino. Jan invited me to do an explosion event for the opening. At the beginning, my idea was to roll the paper notes of the Belgian Franc to equal the budget of the artwork, fill the notes with gunpowder, and explode them in front of the entrance of the museum. After a while, he replied, “The Minister of Finance answered, saying that if you were to do this, at the very least, you would be imprisoned for life.” Then I had another idea: to use the amount of funds to buy soft chips from another casino and turn them into firecrackers. At the opening, we lit up the string of firecrackers. I stood under an umbrella, and the pieces of soft chips fell down like snowflakes.
In 2003, before Jan left S.M.A.K., he curated a large-scale solo exhibition for me. In Ghent, and perhaps even in Belgium’s art wrk, he was like a god. He was the curator for Documenta in 1992, and he established S.M.A.K. For this exhibition, he wanted me to create something that could be both acquired by the museum and be viewed by visitors. Therefore, I exploded his portrait on the wall behind the museum entrance; the piece was named Inheritance (2003). I wanted to see how long it would take the next director to remove Jan’s portrait. Inside the museum, I created An Arbitrary River, a river that connected different galleries. Sixty-year-old Jan rode on the yak skin raft in the river, unafraid of being humiliated and falling into the river. Before the new director started, Jan removed his portrait. He told me in advance, “I don’t want to burden the new director.” I responded, “That work was dedicated to you; you are the Director, and it is your decision to make.” Every time I travelled to Ghent to install exhibitions, I noticed that if he ran into a bunch of artists having dinner, he would discretely asked the restaurant owners to credit the dinner to his account. Sometimes if exhibition organizers were not able to include the artists he liked, or when the budget exceeded the limit, Jan would tell the organizer to give his portion of remuneration to the artists, so that they could realize their works. If he ran into someone trash-talking the artists he liked, he would rush to them—looking as if he was ready to fight them—and argue with them. For these reasons, the media were afraid of him.
When he learned that I was going to relocate from Japan to New York, he pointed his finger to my chest, warning me “Do not lose your soul in the U. S.”
One time, when I was having an exhibition in Europe, I went to Ghent to see him. We met in the museum’s café, and all of a sudden, he asked me to go to hospital with him to see him undergoing dialysis; the single appointment took six hours. Although everyone was concentrating on watching television during this time, he could not stop talking about my art making.
I won the Golden Lion Award for Venice Biennale 1999. Jan was the curator for Belgian Pavilion. After the ceremony, I ran into him in Piazza San Marco. He hugged me, with tears in the eyes. At that moment, I was moved—more moved than I had felt when receiving the award.
– Cai Guo-Qiang
Translation of a text originally published in “Cai Guo-Qiang’s Blog on Paper: Indeed, I’m Lucky,” Bazaar Art no. 279 (Mar. 2012), pp. 50-54