Cai Guo-Qiang is one of the most admired artists in the contemporary art scene. In addition to his large-scale, site-specific installations, Cai is particularly renowned for his unique use of gunpowder and fireworks as an artistic medium to stage spectacular public events of intense emotional resonance, as he did for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Today, Friday, September 25th, Hennessy invites Cai Guo-Qiang to a daytime fireworks event to be held on the Charente in Cognac, France at 3 PM CET.
This impassioned fireworks display was designed as an uplifting event amid the unprecedented context of a pandemic to honour the universal values of resilience, courage, and hope. Inspired by Nietzche’s “The Birth of Tragedy,” Cai Guo-Qiang composed a 15-minute fireworks event in three acts to honour the eternal cycle of creation and destruction and the human spirit that, while acknowledging pain, nonetheless embraces and rejoices in life, in harmony with nature. Like a theatrical performance, this artistic odyssey promises to explode with drama, poetry, colour, and emotion, with multicoloured fireworks launched from 150 oaks barrels floating on the Charente River that echo Hennessy X.O’s 150th anniversary. In a first for the Maison, “A World Odyssey” will be unveiled internationally via live stream. For the artist, this project represents the first time he has conceived a daytime fireworks event launched from an aquatic environment, to be broadcast to a global, real-time audience.
“In these unprecedented times, what has become particularly clear is that we are one interconnected family,” says Hennessy President and CEO Laurent Boillot. “At Hennessy, our roots run deep thanks to longstanding relationships reaching back generations. Today, from his base in New York City, Cai Guo-Qiang reminds us of those time-honoured bonds with a masterpiece of universal beauty and resonance. On behalf of the Maison Hennessy, it is not only an honour and a privilege to host this artistic event, but it is also a demonstration of our steadfast commitment to our extended international family. A century and a half after the Hennessy X.O saga began, Cai offers an artistic vision of an Odyssey forged by unity, resilience, and hope. In the exceptional context of 2020, those values guide us, reminding us how far we’ve come, and how far we can still travel together.”
Says Cai Guo-Qiang, “We are now entering a new chapter of humankind’s strenuous odyssey. The signal from Cognac, travelling through cloud infrastructure, connects individuals from different parts of the world, enabling primaeval passion to burst and form a community of shared future that is closely bonded with nature and art. While the fireworks express my contemplation on tragedy, art, and the essence of life, I hope the audience will draw inspiration from the fireworks in order to reconcile with nature and find the power to heal.”
The event is yet another instance of the energy, persistence, and hope demonstrated by Maison Hennessy this year in an effort to support its communities in Cognac and internationally. “World Odyssey” carries a dual message from the illustrious cognac maker and the artist, one of consolation to those affected by the pandemic, and of confidence in the future that will be live-streamed across digital platforms including Hennessy.com, WeChat, Tencent, Facebook, and YouTube.
Cai Guo-Qiang’s daytime fireworks event will be staged using exclusively non-toxic, reduced-smoke, CE certified pyrotechnic products.