Cai Guo Qiang

Image taken from the recording of event no. 143 of the Open Practice Committee

December 1, 2017
Joseph Regenstein Library, University of Chicago

Artist Cai Guo-Qiang in conversation with Wu Hung, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College; Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia; and Consulting Curator at the Smart Museum of Art. Born in Quanzhou near the Taiwan Strait in 1957, Cai began painting with gunpowder in 1986, a material whose destructive and creative potential makes it a perfect analog for nuclear fission. His artistic experimentation with the form of the mushroom cloud grew out of this work, and he began making small mushroom clouds from a hand-held mortar at meaningful locations, including the Nevada Test Site and the Statue of Liberty. Cai’s mushroom clouds take nuclear energy’s most destructive form and animate it with sublime visual pleasure, demanding we confront the duality of the power unlocked in 1942. 

Presented with UChicago Arts. The “Arts and the Nuclear Age” lecture series is supported by the Franke Institute for the Humanities.

December 2, 2017, 3:20 pm
By Henry Moore’s Nuclear Energy sculpture, University of Chicago
A performance by Cai Guo-Qiang

“Nuclear Reactions Performance”

After a solemn recital of 75 gongs of the Rockefeller Chapel carillon, renowned artist Cai Guo-Qiang will perform a multicolored, large-scale pyrotechnic artwork, opening a poetic portal to that moment 75 years ago. Cai was awarded the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999 and the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2007.

Presented with UChicago Arts and supported by the University's Public Art Committee.