Credit: Joshua White via LA Times Blog

Cai Guo-Qiang’s Sky Ladder at MOCA Geffen

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Photography: Joshua White/  Images from a test explosion at MOCA Geffen


This was my 2 year olds reaction to Cai Guo-Qiang’s Sky Ladder at MOCA Geffen this weekend. After waiting in line as patiently as a 2 year old  and running wild around the viewing areas for about a half an hour, our minds were blown by Cai Guo-Qiang’s Mystery Circle: Explosion Project for MOCA, Los Angeles.

“Mystery Circle, a site-specific work created for MOCA, will contain four stages of special pyrotechnics. At the moment of ignition, 40,000 firework rockets will form a string of crop circles and launch perpendicular to MOCA’s north wall, toward Temple Street, before falling onto the ground. Amidst a curtain of smoke, approximately 100 spinning pyrotechnic UFOs will sporadically appear from the parking lot grounds, while an imaginary alien-god figure on the left side of the wall is outlined from bottom to top by gunpowder fuses. When the burned fuses reach the “halo” of the figure, mini Titanium Salute rockets will shoot into the air followed by a grand finale. The rockets will create a burned imprint on the museum wall, leaving an outdoor drawing. While Cai’s signature explosion events, Project for Extraterrestrials, have been dedicated to creatures from outer space, his new project at MOCA will be the first time an imaginary alien figure actually appears.”

- from the MOCA blog




Credit: Joshua White via LA Times Blog
Credit: Joshua White via LA Times Blog



This is the first show of his work I ever saw in person in 2008 at the Guggenheim in NYC. It was an amazing show and the architecture of the Guggenheim seemed particularly well suited to displaying the dizzying impact of his work. It was both terribly energetic and deeply moving experience. Cai Guo-Qiang seems to be able to employ the power of  spectacle while still creating incredibly thoughtful and transcendental work. The gunpowder drawings are sublime and his installations with animals (fake)  are both powerful and slightly terrifying. His work embodies the true definition of awesome.

Because I had the kiddo with me on Saturday we weren’t able to stay for the opening party and see the whole show, but I can’t wait, and now my kid is so terribly enthralled with this work we are both excited to get back downtown and check it out later this week. Buster hasn’t been able to stop talking about what he saw, and it totally over shadowed the Easter Egg hunt we had gone to earlier in the day. Everyone he sees gets asked “Remember the museum? With the fire and the boom and the fireman with the firetruck and the ladder? Remember? The BOOM!!? ‘member??”

If you are in or near LA any time soon I highly suggest you make the trip to see this show. Cai Guo-Qiang is a true master artist.

Here are a few more videos of his explosion works.

Black Ceremony

Black Ceremony- Rainbow

Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder on

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