cai guo qiang: travels in the mediterranean
 
cai guo qiang: travels in the mediterranean
jul 08, 2010

cai guo qiang: travels in the mediterranean

cai guo-qiang: travels in the mediterranean musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain, nice on now until january 9th, 2011

currently on show at the musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain (MAMAC), nice is an exhibition entitled ‘travels in the mediterranean’, showcasing the work of chinese contemporary artist, cai guo-qiang. divided into three sections, on show are five video installations, a new gunpowder drawing entitled ‘travels in the mediterranean’ and his large scale installation ‘reflection – a gift from iwaki’.

cai guo-qiang ‘reflection – a gift from iwaki’ installation at MAMAC excavated wooden boat and porcelain variable dimensions – 500 x 550 x 1500 cm image courtesy of ville de nice, photographed by luc josia-albertin

‘reflection – a gift from iwaki’ is a giant 15-meter-long excavated wooden boat, filled with broken porcelain pieces. the project is reconstituted for each exhibition it is presented at, by seven fisherman from the small seaside town of iwaki, in japan. the work welcomes visitors to embark on spiritual and sensory voyage of sorts. the installation is also composed of white porcelain which comes from the county of dehua in the province of quanzhou in china.

in 1994, cai collaborated with a group of volunteers from iwaki to excavate an abandoned wooden boat from the local beach, reconstructing it and then exhibiting it at the iwaki city art museum. then in 2004, the 10th anniversary project ‘reflection – a gift from iwaki’ commemorated their collaboration. on this occasion, the iwaki volunteers excavated another wooden boat.

for each presentation of ‘reflection – a gift from iwaki’, the same group of volunteers from iwaki accompany the boat to each site ti install the piece. for the exhibition at MAMAC the iwaki volunteers take this well-travelled boat, originating from japan, to the mediterranean, once again collaborating with cai to install the boat in the coastal city of nice.

cai guo qiang: travels in the mediterranean cai guo-qiang ‘day and night’, 2009 installation view at taipei fine arts museum, 2009 gunpowder on paper 300 x 3200 cm installation view at taipei fine arts museum, 2009 photo by on works international multimedia co., ltd.

throughout his work, cai often employs gunpowder as a predominant material, manifesting itself into drawings as well as explosion projects. for his newest gunpowder drawing ‘travels in the mediterranean’, cai invited a female student from his alma mater – shanghai drama institute – to join him in nice, france to tour the french riviera. by experiencing the mediterranean through the eyes of a young lady 30 years his junior, he has collaborated with the girl conveying her feelings and experiences from the journey into his latest gun powder drawing. the content and themes of the drawing are derived from the young lady’s choice. the french artist and nice native yves klein used the female body as his paint brush in the 60’s where as here, cai employs a woman’s sentiments and aesthetics in his creative process. the gunpowder drawing installation of their mediterranean travels, serve as a product of the event itself, while the actual artwork lies in the entire process of the journey, filled with unexpectedness and unpredictability, in which cai engages in his intended dialogue with klein.

cai guo qiang: travels in the mediterranean cai guo-qiang creating the gunpowder drawing ‘day and night’, taipei, october 17th, 2009 photo by on-works international multimedia co., ltd.

the creation of the gunpowder drawing for MAMAC was an event that was open to the public who were invited to participate, engaging in a collaborative exchange with cai. within the exhibition space, a curved wall has been built to display the final drawing and in the centre, a reflective pool has been constructed, with the edge of the pool higher than floor level. a number of mediterranean-style toy boats float on the water, and a small electric fan blows on its surface, creating ripples. a monitor is mounted on the wall across from the exhibition area, playing video documentations of the making of the gun powder drawing.

cai guo qiang: travels in the mediterranean cai guo-qiang creating gunpowder drawing ‘day and night’, taipei, 2009 photo by dolby tu / courtesy taipei fine arts museum

cai guo qiang: travels in the mediterranean cai guo-qiang – taroko gorge, 2009 gunpowder on paper, mounted on wood as an 18-panel folding screen 250 x 1800 cm overall cai guo-qiang creating the gunpowder drawing taroko gorge, taipei, october 18, 2009 photo by on-works international multimedia co., ltd.

the last area of the exhibition is a presentation of five video installations that feature cai’s collaborative projects with engineers, fire wardens, police officers, students, various governments and the general public. the videos being shown are: ‘fireworks for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 beijing olympic games’, ‘explosion events 1990-2002: projects for extraterrestrials’, ‘gunpowder drawing making process’, ‘live public creation of the gunpowder drawing day and night’ and ‘black fireworks’.

each gallery is connected with hallways, in whic studies of cai’s creative journies will be on show.

cai guo qiang: travels in the mediterranean cai guo-qiang black fireworks: project for hiroshima, 2008 realized at motomachi riverside park near the atomic bomb dome, hiroshima, october 25th, 2008, 1:00pm, 60 seconds black smoke shells commissioned by hiroshima city museum of contemporary art photo by seiji toyonaga / courtesy hiroshima city museum of contemporary art

cai guo qiang: travels in the mediterranean cai guo-qiang footprints of history: fireworks project for the opening ceremony of the 2008 beijing olympic games, 2008 fireworks commissioned by the inernational olympic committee and the beijing organizing committee for the games of the XXIX olympiad photo by hiro ihara / courtesy cai studio

cai guo qiang: travels in the mediterranean artist cai guo-qiang image courtesy of ville de nice, photographed by luc josia-albertin

cai guo qiang was born in quanzhou, fujian province, china in 1957. between 1981 – 1985, he studied in the department of stage design at the shanghai theatre academy. in 1986 he moved to tokyo and then in 1995 transferred to new york where he now lives and works today. he has recently had solo exhibitions at the guggenheim museum, new york, the guggenheim museum, bilbao, taipei fine arts museum, and hiroshima city museum of contemporary art. his work is currently also on show at the new rockbund art museum in shanghai, featured as the institution’s inaugural exhibition that is entitled ‘peasant da vincis‘, and his installation ‘inopportune‘ is being shown at the 17th biennale of sydney.

  • What an amazing artist. Saw his piece REFLECTION – a GIFT from IWAKI at the Guggenheim several years ago displayed in a very small space where it looked totally different. This space allows the viewer to stand back and admire it in a very different way. The gun powder creates images not only burn into the paper, but into your mind.

    suzyhok

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