“Sky Ladder,” a pyrotechnic artwork by Cai Guoqiang.
Born in 1957 in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China, Cai moved to Shanghai in 1981 to study theater design at the Shanghai Theatre Academy. After spending nearly a decade in Tokyo (1986-95) he moved to New York City where he currently lives and works. At the close of his studies in 1985, Cai began experimenting with gunpowder. The resulting works, which he has described as “unpredictable splendor,” combined his interest in chance and the physically as well as culturally charged material. Small, more personal explosions gave way to monumental events that garnered the energy and workforce of the community. Each project is site specific, calling upon the cultural and geographical history of the chosen place to inform the work.