Cai Guo-Qiang

In conjunction with the exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, the artist expressed an interest in fulfilling a project that he had been considering for a while. In a letter to the Education department, he stated, “Something has been stirring inside me for some time. There are a few thousand Chinese-born girls that have been adopted by American families living in New York. I have been thinking about these children for some time, especially since I have two daughters of my own. Whenever Chinese New Year rolls around, I think of these kids even more, often wanting to do something for them or with them. Perhaps an artwork, perhaps not exactly an art piece.”

On Sunday February 24, in conjunction with the Chinese Lantern Festival day, the museum offered a family program inviting these children and their parents for a special tour of the museum, and traditional refreshments associated with the celebration of the Chinese New Year. Cai Guo-Qiang welcomed the group of more than 250 members of the New York Chapter of Families with Children from China. He then orchestrated an interactive “performance” where each visitor received a battery operated Chinese lantern. The museum interior was darkened and the families ascended the ramps until they were filled to the top. The artist counted down 10…9… and at the end of the countdown everyone lit their lanterns in unison casting a warm glow of across the rotunda. According to Cai, “all the lanterns’ lights will merge creating a single light illuminating the museum. The children will thus have created an artwork of their own. This celebration will be called 'Another New Year.'"

Following their day at the museum, participants Maerwydd McFarland and Kathy Urbina e-mailed the Education department to say, “This was one of the most engaging and enjoyable events we've been to in a long time. You don't get to become a work of art in a major museum every day. It was a truly delightful celebration of art and family.”

Guggenheim Museum

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