Monday, January 10, 2005

Gape at Cai Guo-Qiang's "Traveler" exhibit at the Hirshhorn and Sackler

LOCATION: Hirshhorn Museum, Sackler Museum (on the Mall) TIME: Now: EQUIPMENT: Yourself OPTIONAL: Gunpowder, computer-chip-guided floating rockets, contacts in city government (only if you want to try it yourself)

Cai Guo-Qiang has exhibits at the Hirshhorn and Sackler right now. I've only seen the one at the Hirshhorn: it documents his failed plans for various performance art projects around the world involving gigantic patterned gunpower explosions of symbolic significance in public places.

The exhibit includes conceptual sketches (which he made by laying out gunpowder on pieces of paper and exploding it) and small essays about the plans for the projects, and the reasons that bureaucratic approval was denied: it's the aesthetics of failure (and recovery therefrom).

I particularly liked the description of a tranquil lake in Northern Japan, famous for its spiritual placidity: "4,200 pounds of gunpowder will be exploded at intervals in the air, turning a natural wonder into a man-made wonder." Another project would have illuminated a cheeky quote from the I-Ching in front of a business complex.

The most fun from the exhibit comes when you close your eyes and imagine the explosions - but the conceptual sketches, made by igniting patterns of gunpowder on top of paper, are dynamic and expressive art in their own right. I'd really like to have met Cai Guo-Qiang as a kid... "Honey, he burned through the carpet again!"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help me Dude, I'm lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

10:24 AM  

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