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November 26, 2012
Allison Peck, 202.633.0447
Art in Embassies: Emily Lenzner, elenzner@skdknick.com
@FreerSackler, #Sackler25
@ArtinEmbassies, #AIE50

Media Advisory

Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang to stage pyrotechnic display in honor of
Sackler's 25th anniversary, Art in Embassies' 50th
Fri., Nov. 30; 3–3:45 p.m.
Program begins: 3 p.m.
Ignition: approx. 3:11 p.m.
North entrance of the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art, near the National Mall
Jefferson Drive, near 12th Avenue SW

Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang will stage one of his remarkable pyrotechnic "explosion events," a thrilling combination of fireworks, artistry and optical illusion in four dimensions.

Shortly after 3 p.m., a live 40-foot-tall pine tree will erupt in an effervescent shimmer of fireworks as if in a "tree lighting" ceremony, followed by a cascade of black ink-like smoke that mimics the flowing beauty of traditional Chinese brush drawings. The black tree-shaped cloud of smoke drifting through the air will create a spectral scene of two trees, one real and one ethereal.

The event is presented by the Sackler and Arts in Embassies, an office of the Department of State, in honor of the Sackler's 25th and Art in Embassies' 50th anniversaries. It is a highlight of both organizations' anniversary-week programming.

The site-specific staging is part of Cai's larger series of "explosion projects," which have been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; and Central Park in New York City.

Filming will be possible from a press-viewing area; film trucks must enter from 14th and Jefferson Drive, and park between 12th and 14th Streets NW on Jefferson Drive. Media must arrange attendance in advance with pressasia@si.edu; space is limited.


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The Freer|Sackler is closed for renovation and reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Join us for our reopening celebration on October 14–15, 2017.