Cai Guo-Qiang: Transient Eternity

Cai Guo-Qiang: Transient Eternity

Rockbund Art Museum

Cai Guo-Qiang watches the ignition of a gunpowder painting at the Salón de Reinos (Hall of Realms), Madrid, 2017. © Museo Nacional del Prado.

May 24, 2021
Cai Guo-Qiang
Transient Eternity
101 Ignitions of Gunpowder Paintings
July 14–August 14, 2021
RAM+ launch: June 7
Instagram / Facebook / Weibo

On Wednesday June 30, 2021, Rockbund Art Museum (RAM), Shanghai, is delighted to launch its brand-new digital platform RAM+. Ten years since their first collaboration, RAM is honored to once again invite the internationally acclaimed artist Cai Guo-Qiang, who curated RAM’s inaugural exhibition in 2010, to mark this new milestone of the museum’s development. On the occasion of RAM’s 10th anniversary, Cai has created his first Non-Fungible Token (NFT) project Transient Eternity—101 Ignitions of Gunpowder Paintings. The artworks will be on view from July 14–August 14, 2021 at TR Lab, a platform partnering with RAM in the discovery of NFT art from the world’s leading artists.

Over the past ten years, Rockbund Art Museum has promoted contemporary art practices with a focus on Asia, committed to going beyond the fixed definition of an exhibition, and looked to expand the dialogue with artists by gathering of critical thinkers and practitioners from other social and cultural fields. RAM+ is an extension from the museum’s physical space into the digital worldbringing unique expertise in art and a commitment to sustainable values by supporting selected artists to engage with the possibilities of digital art, and activating a curatorial approach to emerging digital ecology. Accelerated within the pandemic context, the association of digital art with NFT art offers new parameters in the digital art field. Beyond the art market and cryptocurrency community, how can an institution support the artistic creation of digital and NFT artists? RAM+ will initiate projects such as symposiums, commissions, virtual exhibitions and performative events, online publications, research and collective learning programs to embrace this new landscape and to foresee the transformative changes in contemporary art.

Specially commissioned by Rockbund Art Museum on this unique occasion, Cai Guo-Qiang’s Transient Eternity transforms the “ignition moments,” a crucial part of the gunpowder paintings, to NFT. 100 ignition moments form a single NFT, while the 101st will be minted as an additional NFT—a small surprise for the NFT community. These moments all come from the pieces Cai created during his recent Individual’s Journey Through Western Art History. Cai comments, “Transient Eternity is the existence of the explosion moment itself—not the videos or photographs with which the ignition instant to be preserved in the traditional sense, or the physical gunpowder painting that was born from the ignition…The project contemplates: Is it possible to create an art project with a more forward-looking vision, and with more compelling forms and concepts, by leveraging the core values unique to NFT technology?”

In 2010, Cai Guo-Qiang transformed “low-tech” inventions, handmade by peasants, into the art project Peasant Da Vincis. It debuted at Rockbund Art Museum before travelling to various institutions around the world, including CCBB in Rio de Janeiro, where it became the most visited exhibition by a living artist in the world in 2013. Over a decade later, the artist integrates the “high-tech” nature of NFT with the moments of the birth of his gunpowder paintings to create another art project. The project poses the questions: What defines an artist’s work? What is an art project? It reflects on the questions surrounding the transience and eternity of the digital age symbolized by NFT, and the core concept of how value is stored. In the isolation age of pandemic and post-pandemic, the project aims to reflect on the weight of transient existence in the eternal river of time.

Beginning July 14, Transient Eternity will be featured in a 48-hour charity auction on the TR Lab platform. Half of the auction proceeds will go to Rockbund Art Museum in support of the museum’s development and digital art research programs. The other half will go toward Cai Foundation, mainly in support of the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) Cai Fellowship Program, which funds young Chinese artists studying in the United States.

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Rockbund Art Museum
May 24, 2021

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