International exhibitions

International Archives 2nd half of 2014

Cai Guo-Qiang, The Ninth Wave

Power Station of Art, Shanghai (China)

08.08 - 26.10.2014

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E-Flux Press release

The Power Station of Art (PSA) is proud to present the major solo exhibition Cai Guo-­Qiang: The Ninth Wave by the New York-based Chinese-born artist. From August 8 to October 26, the exhibition explores pressing environmental and ecological issues, and the imminent challenge they pose to the survival of mankind—as evidenced by the high levels of smog in the air and the incident of 16,000 dead pigs floating down the Huangpu River last year. The artist also references recurring themes in traditional Chinese aesthetics and philosophy: humanity's longing for a return to a primordial landscape and a spiritual homeland.



Exhibition August 8 - October 26, 2014. The Shanghai Power Station of Art, 200 Huayuangang Road (near Miaojiang Road) Huangpu District, Shanghai (China). Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–7pm.


PSA's building, the former Nanshi Power Station, serves as a powerful backdrop for 12 major works in a diverse range of media, some of them taking place in the public realm leading up to the opening, allowing the public to witness various stages of the creative process. The installation work The Ninth Wave—a fishing boat from the artist's hometown of Quanzhou carrying 99 fabricated animals in various states of decline—sailed along the Huangpu River, past the Bund, on July 17 as art intervention, before ultimately 'landing' at PSA's Great Hall, where it became an indoor installation. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, a suite of four gunpowder drawings on porcelain, was then completed on-site, evoking and renewing the spirit and tradition of Chinese literati ink painting; The Bund Without Us, a monumental 27-meter-long gunpowder drawing that re-imagines the cityscape of Shanghai without people and taken over by nature, was created on July 24 with the help of volunteers from local communities. Finally on August 8, Elegy: Explosion Event for the opening of Cai Guo-Qiang: The Ninth Wave, the artist's first public large‐scale daytime pyrotechnic display in Mainland China, was realized on the Huangpu River by the museum. Conceived in three chapters—Elegy, Remembrance and Consolation—and lasting eight minutes, the ceremonial explosion event projected an image of nature in decline. In line with the theme of the exhibition, the site‐specific ephemeral work employed environmentally safe food-grade ingredients for the colored smoke pyrotechnic effects.

Other new works include Silent Ink, featuring a 250-square-meter lake excavated out of the gallery floor filled with 20,000 liters of black ink, which creates a serene yet haunting effect; in the former power plant's 165-meter-tall chimney, three life-like baby dolls sit on a swing that sways back and forth in Air of Heaven. These ambitious works are exhibited alongside other seminal works such as Head On and Birds and Flowers of Brazil, presented in Shanghai for the first time.

The Ninth Wave, one of the artist's largest solo exhibition in recent years, articulates the artist's ongoing reflection on the larger natural and physical forces that have shaped our world, and the cultural and social currents that have an impact on humanity.

The exhibition is organized by the Shanghai International Culture Association.

The Ninth Wave sailing on the Huangpu River by the Bund, Shanghai, 2014. Photo: Wen-You Cai. Courtesy Cai Studio. Cai Guo-Qiang, The Ninth Wave, Power Station of Art, Shanghai

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2014. All Rights Reserved

The Ninth Wave sailing on the Huangpu River by the Bund, Shanghai, 2014. Photo: Wen-You Cai. Courtesy Cai Studio.