Among the most important artists to emerge from Asia in this generation, Cai Guo-Qiang uses an indigenous material from China-- gunpowder-- as one might use paint to mark the surfaces of his elaborate multi-paneled screens. In A Certain Lunar Eclipse--Project for Humankind No. 2, Cai illustrates a project's plan to communicate with extraterrestrials via a gunpowder derived explosion in the form of the Great Wall. This work, as well as the others from this series can be seen as a blueprint for a performance that, because of their spectacular scale and destructive nature, might never manifest beyond conception. Cai says of these works, "I started to use dynamite to avoid painting like a "literati" and to oppose my spatio-temporal environment--to destroy it. Explosions make you feel something intense at the very core of your being because, while you can arrange the explosives as you please, you cannot control the explosion itself."
Slated for a firework project in June which will mark the Museum of Modern Art's temporary move to Queens, Cai maintains his interest is more about attempting to communicate with celestial forces, rather than in an endgame dialogue with the West. Similar in strategy to how Anselm Keifer borrows from German mythology and illustrates how these myths are woven into daily life, so too does Cai draw upon Chinese lore, mixed with a rich dose of global humanity, to conjure up his epic works.
The translation of the text reads:
"One day, a luminous line will appear on the obscure disk of the moon during its eclipses. It will have been created by human beings using gunpowder fuses set up in the form of the Great Wall of China, the largest symbol of human civilization on earth. This project, which cannot be realized for the time being, is planned for the people of the future. At the same time. its goal is to awaken the conscience of the people of today who are faced with the destruction of the environment and the imbalance of life on earth".
(Cai Guo-Qiang, Fondation Cartier pour l'art Contemporain, Paris 2000, p. 92)