Cai Guo-Qiang Explosion Event at MOCA

LA's Museum of Contemporary Art invited the city to the opening party for Cai Guo-Qiang's "Sky Ladder" exhibition, the highlight of which was a massive explosion of rockets and other fireworks, titled “Mystery Circle.”  Thousands of people filled the museum grounds for the big event. Several introductory speakers (including the artist) described what was about to happen, but I don’t think anyone was anticipating the effect of 40,000 rockets launched directly at us. The light, heat, and concussive force were terrifying and beautiful.

MOCA shot video of the event from many angles, and made this nifty map to show the event videos from a myriad of perspectives. Here's a more composed video that combines a bunch of the views:

Cai Guo-Qiang has gotten so much attention lately that he is starting to get endorsements, including a limited-edition Lomography signature camera.  I'm a crappy photographer, but that didn't deter the nice people at Lomography from lending me a Cai Guo-Qiang camera to document the explosion event and the exhibition. The camera is really neat and I enjoyed messing around with analog settings - it's harder and much more rewarding than slapping an Instagram filter on a digital image. Here’s the best shot I got of the installation, which includes a crop circle hanging from the ceiling:

The Cai Guo-Qiang "Sky Ladder" exhibition is open at MOCA (through July 30) and  includes three gunpowder paintings, a crop circle installation, and videos of the various detonations. You can also see the scorch marks from the explosion event on the side of the building. Read the rest

Art That Goes Bang: Cai Guo-Qiang's Gunpowder Paintings

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Cai Guo-Qiang is making some of the most interesting and beautiful art of our time. He’s been a prominent artist around the world for twenty years or so. I’m embarrassed to admit that I knew nothing about him until just last year when a friend posted photos of his installation at Deustche Guggenheim in Berlin from 2006 on Facebook. The piece that struck me is called Head On and it fills a large room with a pack of 99 life-size wolf replicas leaping into a plate glass panel. It’s incredibly moving and gorgeous.  

Cai Guo-Qiang: Head On (2006). Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Germany. Photo by Hiro Ihara and Mathias Schormann

So, I jumped at the chance when MOCA announced that Cai Guo-Qiang would be doing a series of paintings with imagery produced by exploding gunpowder here in LA and that the museum needed volunteers to assist on the project. I’m not sure why they accepted my application - I know they had far more interest than available slots, and most of my fellow volunteers were artists or art students. But I got lucky. Here’s what happened.   Read the rest