Everything is Museum

Everything is Museum

February 22–May 28, 2008

The socialist utopianism that pervades Cai Guo-Qiang’s artistic strategies has led to the use of the term “social projects” to describe a range of work for which the allure of socialist memory and the idea of absolute faith in communitarian values are key to the artist’s process, imagination, and narrative. In 2000, Cai inaugurated Everything Is Museum, a series of site-specific, community-based MoCAs (museums of contemporary art) that appropriate nonart structures—such as military bunkers and old kilns—for the exhibition of contemporary art. These MoCAs attest to the artist’s interest in unstable environments. To date, Cai has realized three MoCAs at off-beat sites in Japan, Italy, and the Taiwanese island of Kinmen, and a fourth is scheduled to open in China in 2009.

Artist Cai Guo-Qiang

Artist Cai Guo-Qiang painting a mural for the exhibition

As the architect, director, and curator of the Everything Is Museum projects, the title of which encompasses the MoCAs and the exhibitions presented at them, Cai demonstrates his commitment to the democratic empowerment of art and to reinventing the role of the artist in society. The projects involve extraordinary logistical negotiations that rely on the artist’s considerable charisma and mobilization skills, including fundraising, and expand on his goal not just to make art but to, as he says, “create a culture.”

In conjunction with Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, the Guggenheim Museum has invited Cai to curate an Everything Is Museum exhibition at the Sackler Center for Art Education. The presentation includes photographs, drawings, archival documents, and contributions by Tan Dun, Norman Foster, Kiki Smith, and Jennifer Wen Ma, all of whom have participated in the Everything Is Museum series. Also on view are designs that have been developed by Thomas Krens for Guggenheim museums, and museum proposals by young people.

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