Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tuesday at the warehouse

Cai Guo-Qiang explaining his Odyssey sketch

Cai Guo-Qiang explaining his Odyssey sketch

Tuesday saw a live audience join the cameras in observing the Odyssey project. Luckily the audience do not pay to attend since the first two hours they were watching four museum art handlers lay out the panels. Those guys made the panels look so easy to manoeuvre, but I know better! Once that was complete, however, Cai Guo-Qiang spoke to the audience and the volunteers to explain the project and his vision.

The 42 panels of Odyssey will line the walls of the Arts of Asia gallery at the MFAH, and will be a backdrop for the other works of art. For this reason Odyssey is part landscape - a traditional Chinese landscape of mountain and waterfall - and part Chinese garden with peonies and lotus flowers. Cai quoted a Chinese saying "Tall mountains and flowing water welcome a dear friend" and mentioned that he was giving flat Houston its own mountain.

Right now his drawing, which we have converted into a stencil, looks very related to the long tradition of chinese landscape painting. However, I cannot even begin to imagine what it will look like by late Wednesday. Look for yourselves - from 9 a.m. on Wednesday the action will be live online at culture map.
After Cai spoke we lifted the stencil, in three large sections, and placed it onto the panels. That sounds really easy, but it's not! It took a long time to get each section straight as some of the more delicate and intricate areas threatened to rip and collapse in transit.
Working on a glassine and card mask for Odyssey

Working on a glassine and card mask for Odyssey

Our final task of the morning was cutting masks from glassine paper and card to place over areas of the stencil. I believe these are used to direct the smoke and reduce the oxygen to create different marks with the igniting gunpowder.
Who know what I will be doing tomorrow morning? Stripping fuses or holding a bowl of gunpowder perhpas! Whatever we are doing will be fascinating since I am working with a great group of people for a man who exudes calm and serenity.

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