Artist Cai Guo­-Qiang Sends a 500-Meter Ladder of Fire into the Sky Above China

ladder-1

Sky Ladder, realized at Huiyu Island Harbour, Quanzhou, Fujian, June 15, 2015 at 4:49 am, approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Photos by Lin Yi & Wen-You Cai, courtesy Cai Studio.

In the early morning hours of June 15, a huge white balloon filled with 6,200 cubic meters of helium slowly ascended into the sky above Huiyu Island Harbour, Quanzhou, China. Attached to it was a 500-meter long ladder coated completely with quick burning fuses and gold fireworks that was then ignighted by artist Cai Guo­-Qiang (previously) who has become known for his ambitious pyrotechnic artworks.

Titled Sky Ladder, the piece burned for approxmiately 2 minutes and 30 seconds above the harbor and was the fourth and final attempt to realize the performance. Guo­-Qiang had earlier attempted Sky Ladder in Bath (1994), Shanghai (2001), and in Los Angeles (2012), to varying degrees of success, but never considered his vision complete until now. He first imagined a ladder of fire as a child and has pursued the idea for 21 years. He shares about this last successful iteration of the event:

Behind Sky Ladder lies a clear childhood dream of mine. Despite all life’s twists and turns, I have always been determined to realize it. My earlier proposals were either more abstract or ceremonial. Sky Ladder today is tender, and touches my heart deeply: it carries affection for my hometown, my relatives and my friends. In contrast to my other attempts, which set the ignition time at dusk, this time the ladder rose toward the morning sun, carrying hope. For me, this not only means a return but also the start of a new journey.

Unfortunately there’s no official video of the performance available yet, but a few shaky cell phone videos have emerged. You can see more images of the performance on the artist’s website. All photos by Lin Yi and Wen-You Cai courtesy Cai Studio. (via Booooooom)

ladder-2

ladder-3-up

ladder-4

ladder-5

ladder-6

See related posts on Colossal about , , , .