What new ideas or understandings did this documentary shed light on for you in terms of the workings of the contemporary art world? Please explain in detail.
This documentary introduced to me how the modern world tolerates art and how it brings it to daily life. I have always strictly limited my definition of art to working on paper with a pencil or on canvas with a paint brush. My stubbornness blocked me from thinking that in the actual contemporary art world, art is so much more. I never even thought of gun powder as art media before, and yet it is as beautiful as magic in the hands of Cai Guo Qiang. This documentary really opened my eyes to what art can be and its potentials.
What is an issue brought up in the documentary that you STRONGLY AGREE OR DISAGREE with? Explain the issue and give us reasoning as to why you agree or disagree with it.
The documentary invited many knowledgeable art critics to opinionate on Cai Guo Qiang’s art and his style. The issue of how fame and money can disrupt the artist’s original intentions was corroborated as both critics have pointed it out. There’s this comparison between, “‘Yes, I want to do it’ and ‘no, we will not let you’ [to] here’s two million dollars, what do you want to do?” I absolutely agree with this rising issue amongst artists, especially ones who are successful. When you work alone and for the enjoyment of art, you don’t depend on it to make a living. However, once you are surrounded by fame, there are people who want to collaborate, and thus, you are no longer free and independent. They will pay in return for your participation and you will have to tolerate what they desire, and thus, you are put on a constraint of freedom. The idea of fame and money will definitely quaver the artist’s original beliefs.
What’s the most important takeaway from watching this documentary? What will you remember about it moving forward?
A significant takeaway from the “Sky Ladder” was reminding me that art takes courage and perseverance. Working with gun power as the art media is creative and innovative, but at the same time, incredibly dangerous as admitted by Cai Guo Qiang himself. To make make his vision of the Sky Ladder come to life, it took him years after years of preparation and trial and errors; he had to accept failure and keep improving. On his fifth trial, Qiang had to suffer under time and financial constraints and his wife’s disapproval, but Qiang was relentless. On his fifth and final trial, the Sky Ladder, as if a fiery dragon of success, soared in the sky to celebrate his victory.