Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang challenges the confines of the art world with boundary pushing questions that materialize as blazing temporary art that leave behind seeds of dreaming in waking moments of colorful smoke. He is best-known to the general public for the spectacular fireworks show during the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony. In the contemporary art world, his explosive works gunpowder works are memorable, as massive gunpowder laced sculptures ignite and flicker as if they were the pulse of his imagination burning free.
On June 15, 2015 Guo-Qiang’s piece, Sky Ladder became the largest single installation ever commissioned. A huge white balloon filled with 6,200 cubic meters of helium was attached to a 500-meter long ladder coated completely with quick burning fuses and gold fireworks. As it ascended into the heavens above Huiyu Island Harbor, in Quanzhou, China, it burned brightly into the early morning for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
This was Guo-Qiang’s fourth attempt to realize the performance. Previous attempts in Bath (1994), Shanghai (2001), and in Los Angeles (2012), were stymied.
Netflix has released a documentary film detailing Guo-Qiang’s ground breaking artistic efforts to symbolically connect the earth to the universe with Sky Ladder; all captured by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (One Day In September, The Last King Of Scotland). Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiangtakes you behind the scenes of the largest single installation ever commissioned.
His pyrotechnic artistic technics are memorable for the impressions that come after the loud bangs, leaving nothing but darkened images that drift off into the wind. The shadows may phase out, but these outlines of the once existing things create palpable discussions that continue well after his installations have been set off.
On June 15, his latest piece titled Sky Ladder, (a huge white balloon filled with 6,200 cubic meters of helium was attached to a 500-meter long ladder coated completely with quick burning fuses and gold fireworks) ascended into the sky above Huiyu Island Harbor, Quanzhou, China, burning brightly into the early morning for 2 minutes and 30 seconds
This was Guo-Qiang’s fourth attempt to realize the performance. Previous Sky Ladder’s had been attempted in Bath (1994), Shanghai (2001), and in Los Angeles (2012), to varying degrees of success, none had fully realized his vision until now.
“Behind Sky Ladder lies a clear childhood dream of mine. Despite all life’s twists and turns, I have always been determined to realize it. My earlier proposals were either more abstract or ceremonial. Sky Ladder today is tender and touches my heart deeply: it carries affection for my hometown, my relatives, and my friends. In contrast to my other attempts, which set the ignition time at dusk, this time the ladder rose toward the morning sun, carrying hope. For me, this not only means a return but also the start of a new journey.”
All photos by Lin Yi and Wen-You Cai courtesy Cai Studio. (via Booooooom)