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The elaborate production of the pack of wolves already began in January of 2006 in the Chinese city of Quanzhou. A manufacturer there specializes in creating life-sized animals that look amazingly real. At first, small clay models were made as movement studies, from which Cai Guo-Qiang later created an edition for the Berlin exhibition. The wolves of the installation, made from these models and drawings, are covered in dyed sheepskin and look amazingly real and alive; inside, they are stuffed with straw and wire, while their faces are rendered in plastic.

Illusion II: Explosion Project, 2006, Berlin, Foto: Hiro Ihara
Courtesy Cai Studio

Afterwards, Cai Guo-Qiang realized Illusion II in an empty lot in the middle of Berlin surrounded by office and residential buildings – a typical empty area in the city in the background of which the ruins of the former Anhalter Bahnhof added a very special aura. Cai Guo-Qiang was fascinated by this detail, which fit in perfectly with Illusion II, a reflection, as Cai has said, "on the opposing forces of violence and beauty," on the "destruction, fame, and heroism" in Berlin’s history. With the professional support of the Babelsberg Film Studio and according to the artist’s instructions, a small, to all appearances typically German house was constructed.

Illusion II: Explosion Project, 2006, Berlin,
Foto: Hiro Ihara
Courtesy Cai Studio

Finally, the film shoot for the video took place on July 11. Fireworks and rockets of all types and effects now filled the house’s interior. At 9:30 pm, Cai Guo-Qiang gave the signal to commence, and, before a setting sun in the evening Berlin sky, a fascinating spectacle began that lasted for 20 minutes: a chain of various explosions caused a deafening noise, the fireworks exploded in colorful cascades and stars, and the house went up in flames. More than 15 cameras recorded the show for the video and the exhibition catalogue, and the images were as aesthetic as they were violent.

Inopportune:Stage Two, Installation MASS Moca,
Sammlung des Künstlers, 2004,
Foto K.Kennefick,,
©Deutsche Guggenheim, Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in the city of Quanzhou in the province of Fujian; today, he is considered one of the most important representatives of contemporary Chinese art. The work of the New York-based artist has been shown over the past years in numerous international museums including the MASS MoCA, the Tate Modern , the Centre Pompidou, and the Metropolitan Museum. In 1999, Cai Guo-Qiang won the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennial with his work Venice’s Rent Collection Courtyard. Last year, he curated the Chinese Pavilion for the Biennale , which was presented for the first time. A major retrospective of the artist’s work is planned for 2008 in the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Peking National Museum.

Aufbau der Installation "Head On", 2006, im Deutsche Guggenheim
Foto: Hiro Ihara, Courtesy Cai Studio

The edition Study for a Wolf’s Bodily Movement: For Head On was created especially for the exhibition; it refers directly to Cai’s installation at the Deutsche Guggenheim. The realistic 99 wolves in the exhibition hall were preceded by small-scale clay models, of which he selected a series of nine variations for the edition. The models, sculptural counterparts to the sketches, emphasize the basic structure of a wolf’s movement more than the life-sized versions do; reduced to a few main physical features, the twists and turns of the figures are drastic and dynamic in expression. The edition is limited to eleven casts of each of the nine figures, such that the number of pieces in the edition corresponds to the amount of wolves in “Head On.”

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