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VernissageTV Classics (r3): Cai Guo-Qiang Retrospective at Guggenheim Museum New York (2008)

In 2008 the Guggenheim Museum in New York presented Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, a comprehensive retrospective of the Chinese-born artist Cai Guo-Qiang. On display were early works, gunpowder darwings, explosion events, installations, and social projects. Eight of Cai Guo-Qiang’s most important installations are on display, the most dominating one being “Inopportune: Stage One (2004)”, comprised of nine cars pierced with blinking light tubes that simulate the trajectory of a car-bomb explosion tumbling upwards through the atrium’s void. Later, the exhibition traveled to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao / Spain.

This is another segment in our series r3 that highlights the treasures of VernissageTV’s huge archive. R3 is a series of VernissageTV classics, now re-mastered, re-edited and reissued in High Definition. Click here for the complete list of videos. Click here for the original post and more information about the show.

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Cai Guo-Qiang: 1040M Underground. Solo Exhibition at Izolyatsia Art Center in Donetsk, Ukraine

Izolyatsia is a new art center in the industrial city of Donetsk, Ukraine. The center just opened with a solo exhibition of Cai Guo-Qiang. The show titled 1040M Underground is New York-based artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s first solo exhibition in Ukraine. The title is inspired by the artist’s experience of the coal and salt mines of Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region. During his visit, Cai Guo-Qiang followed the coal miners on their way 1040 meters below ground level and into the more than 1000 meters long tunnel of the mine.

While Oligarch Victor Pinchuk has put Ukraine on the contemporary art map with his art center in Ukraine’s capital Kiew, Donetsk is rather known for its steel plants, coal mines and its football teams than for contemporary art. Luba Michailova seeks to change this with her arts foundation named Izolyatsia Platform for Cultural Initiatives. The center is located on the territory of a former insulation materials plant with the same name. The center’s aim is to preserve the industrial heritage of the region as well as inspire cultural and social development. Apart from realizing site-specific projects, Izolyatsia launched an educational program and has a residency program for young Ukrainian artists.

Inspired by his visit to the Donbas region, Cai Guo-Qiang conceived two site-specific installations. In the main gallery of Izolyatsia Cai Guo-Qiang shows a gunpowder drawing installation whose making process took place in front of a live audience. The installation titled Monuments on Shoulders is based on 27 portraits that nine local Socialist realist painters have made from 27 mine workers. All 27 portraits have been ignited using different grades and grains of gunpowder and then mounted on frames identical to the ones used to hold the portraits of Soviet leaders in propaganda parades.

The second installation titled Nursery Rhymes is presented in the remnants of a factory building that was destroyed by a fire. Nine used mining carts are lined-up, rocking slowly like cradles. Each mining cart contains a projection on the canopy. They show Soviet era films showing Ukrainian musicians, Soviet era athletes, communist propaganda, and art films. The installation is completed by salvaged objects from the days of the factory, such as tiny chessboards from the factory kindergarten, and old workers’ uniforms and tools, preserved by Izolyatsia Founder Luba Michailova’s father, the former Director of the Izolyatsia plant during the Soviet era.

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou City, China. He works in a variety of media such as drawing, installation, video and performance art. He is best known for his experiments with gunpowder, from utilizing it for drawings to large-scale explosion events. Cai was awarded many renowned art prizes such as the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, the Japan Cultural Design Prize in 1995, and the 7th Hiroshima Art Prize in 2007. In 2008/2009 his work was shown in a major retrospective titled I Want to Believe in the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and the National Art Museum of China in Beijing. Upcoming exhibitions include solo shows at the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Click here for more Cai Guo-Qiang-related videos.

Cai Guo-Qiang: 1040M Underground. Solo Exhibition at Izolyatsia Platform For Cultural Initiatives in Donetsk, Ukraine. Opening reception, August 26, 2011. The exhibition runs until November 13, 2011.

Update: Exhibition walk-through with Luba Michailova and Cai Guo-Qiang.

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Cai Guo-Qiang: Resplandor y soledad at MUAC, Mexico City

The Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo MUAC (Contemporary Art University Museum) located in the Cultural Center of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). It’s the largest public institution in Mexico to accommodate a collection of national and international contemporary art.

Resplandor y soledad / Splendor and Solitude (2010) curated by Ben Tufnell, is the first solo show of Cai Guo-Qiang in Latin America. For the show, the artist constructed a landscape of volcanic rocks and a lake of mezcal (a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant) as a representation of the Lake Texcoco.

The legend says that by the commandment of the God Huitzilopochtli, the Mexicans were to start a pilgrimage until they could find an eagle eating a snake in the top of a cactus. The site where they found this signal was going to be the place from where they should build the city of Tenochtitlan. The Mexicans saw the signal of the eagle on a small island in the middle of the Lake Texcoco. They settled their city in this point.

Qiang displays, around the lake, a sequence of 14 gunpowder large scale drawings representing the syncretic elements of the Mexican culture, landscape and the foundation of the city. The drawings were produced in Mexico City with the help and collaboration of art students from the National Fine Arts School (ENAP).

Cai Guo-Qiang: Resplandor y soledad at MUAC, Mexico City. The exhibition runs until March 20, 2011. Video by VTV Correspondents Daniela Libertad and Rodrigo Hernandez C., February 19, 2011.

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Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe / Museo Guggenheim Bilbao

Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe at the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain is a comprehensive retrospective of the work of Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang. It’s the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s first solo show devoted to a Chinese-born artist.

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in Quanzhou, China in 1957. Cai Guo-Qiang was a core member of the creative team that planned the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The exhibition I Want to Believe charts the artist’s creation across four mediums: gunpowder drawings, explosion events, installations, and social projects. Among the works on display are Innoportune: Stage one (2004, installation consisting of nine cars and sequenced multichannel light tubes), Reflection – A Gift from Iwaki (2004, excavated wooden boat and porcelain), and Head On (wolves jumping head on against a glass wall, first realized for Cai Guo-Qiang’s solo exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin).

In the 1980s Cai studied stage design in Shanghai. In 1986, he moved to Japan, and in 1995, he moved to New York, where he lives today. In 1996, the work Cry Dragon/Cry Wolf: The Ark Of Genghis Khan, was a finalist in inaugural Hugo Boss Prize at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Three years later he was the recipient of the Golden Lion Award at the 48th Venice Biennale. In 2007, Cai was awarded the 7th Hiroshima Art Prize.

The retrospective was first shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which VernissageTV filmed in March 2008. It was interesting to see not only the differences due to the fact that we then filmed the show without visitors and now during the opening reception. A comparison between the two videos show how the exhibition reacts to the architecture of two of the most exceptional museum buildings, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and Frank Owen Gehry’s Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao.

Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe / Sinetsi Nahi Dut / Quiero Creer / Museo Guggenheim Bilbao. Press Preview and Opening Reception, Bilbao / Spain, March 16, 2009.

PS: Recommended link: Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe at Museo Guggenheim Bilbao at DB Artmag.

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Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe / Guggenheim Museum, New York

Currently, the Guggenheim Museum in New York presents Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, a comprehensive retrospective of the Chinese-born artist Cai Guo-Qiang (until May 28, 2008). The show presents early works, gunpowder darwings, explosion events, installations, and social projects. Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe features more than 80 works from the 1980s to the present. The exhibition has been designed as a site-specific presentation within Fank Lloyd Wright’s rotunda building and also in galleries of the Annex. According to the artist, the presentation fills the museum with the energy of an explosion. Eight of Cai Guo-Qiang’s most important installations are on display, the most dominating one being “Inopportune: Stage One (2004)”, comprised of nine cars pierced with blinking light tubes that simulate the trajectory of a car-bomb explosion tumbling upwards through the atrium’s void. On the Guggenheim Museum’s website there is an interesting video and a photo series of the installation process of the exhibition. Guggenheim Museum New York, March 27, 2008.

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