Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies

When 14 Sep 2017 - 8 Oct 2017
Where Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130
United States

In September, the Association for Public Art (aPA) in Philadelphia presents a major new site-specific work by renowned artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Commissioned by aPA with guest curator Lance Fung of Fung Collaboratives on the occasion of the centennial of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies invites the public to actively experience the grand boulevard as a nocturnal dreamscape conjured from the languorous movements of bobbing clusters of glowing Chinese lanterns and groups of customized peddle vehicles.

Fireflies, the artist’s largest public art project in the US in a decade, runs for approximately four weekends, Thursdays through Sundays, 6pm-10pm, from Thursday, September 14 to Sunday, October 8, 2017.

For the opening ceremony on September 14, Cai Guo-Qiang will orchestrate a dream-like light and movement performance. Employing hundreds of luminous colorful lanterns attached in clusters, 27 customized pedi-cabs will glide along the Parkway, moving as an ensemble and creating a luminous choreography. Evoking the diverse cultures and peoples that come from all over the world to take root in the United States, the lanterns will take shapes ranging from orbs, stars and emojis to space aliens and UFOs.

The key participatory element of Fireflies commences the next day, as members of the public are invited to board the vehicles to take rides up and down the Parkway from Sister Cities Park to Iroquois Park near the Philadelphia Museum Art.

“As an organization with a long tradition of supporting the art and artists of our time, whether it be 1887, the year we commissioned a work from Alexander Milne Calder, or today, with Cai Guo-Qiang, the Association for Public Art has always been devoted to working with artists to activate public space,” says Penny Balkin Bach, Executive Director and Chief Curator, aPA. “I am thrilled to see how Cai has managed to tap into this city’s egalitarian spirit and community pride in conceiving this collective experience.”

Major support for Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the Association for Public Art, National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Prudent Management Associates, The Hess Foundation, Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson and individual donors (as of May 2017). In-kind support provided by Tierney, Expert Events, Park Towne Place and media sponsor WHYY. Partners include: Velo-Park; Philadelphia Parks & Recreation; the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy; Center City District; and The Parkway Council.

For more than 25 years, Cai Guo-Qiang’s practice has spanned a range of media in contemporary art, including drawing, installation, video and performance art. He is perhaps best known for the development of signature explosion events, including the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Cai has received many solo museum exhibitions and awards, including the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999.

As chief curator of Fung Collaboratives, Lance Fung conceives and realizes art exhibitions around the world. These include The Snow Show (2003–06); Lucky Number Seven, the seventh SITE Santa Fe International Biennial; and Artlantic (2012–14), which transformed vacant lots in Atlantic City.

The Association for Public Art (aPA) commissions, preserves, interprets, and promotes public art in Philadelphia. The aPA is the nation’s first private nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a “Museum Without Walls” that informs, engages, and inspires diverse audiences. Established in 1872, the aPA integrates public art and urban design through programs and advocacy efforts that connect people with public art.

Click here to watch the trailer for Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies.

Photo courtesy of the organiser/s

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