Cai Guo-Qiang, “White Tsunami,” 2017, Digital Print, 180 × 250 cm. Shanghai Himalayas Museum installation view, 2017


“White Tsunami” presents a rendering for a collaborative project between Cai Guo-Qiang and ART 2030 to be realized on the East River in New York, in front of the UN Headquarters. A planned daytime explosion – Cai’s proposed work – directly addresses the severity of the global climate situation by portraying downtown Manhattan enveloped by a great tsunami wave. The project has yet to be actualized, but is indicative of a global commitment to increase awareness for climate change. As many of the world’s urban centers face the specter of rising tides, Cai’s intended work broadens the context of the Shanghai Project’s call to action beyond a local perspective.

One of the most internationally celebrated contemporary artists, Cai has explored the use of gunpowder in his practice for the past decades. He is famous for his experimentations with explosives on a massive scale, seen through his signature pyrotechnic events. Drawing upon Eastern philosophy and contemporary social issues as a conceptual basis, these projects aim to establish an exchange between viewers and the larger universe around them, utilizing a site-specific approach to culture and history.


About ART 2030

The vision of ART 2030 is to mobilize and engage everyone on the planet with the United Nations plan for the future—the Global Goals. ART 2030 is a program of extraordinary art projects in cities across the globe by some of the world’s most renowned artists, combined with a global communication platform to inspire people to become an active part in changing their local and global communities. These art projects will channel the essence of the Global Goals and make them relevant to people’s individual lives and experiences. ART 2030 is also collaborating with public institutions, private museums, art experts, art foundations, businesses, and other organizations to create a program of artworks and art events internationally, virtually, and physically.

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou, Fujian province, China, and currently lives and works in New York. His artistic expression spans multiple mediums including painting, installation, video, and performance. While living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, he explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, an inquiry that eventually led to his experimentation with explosives on a massive scale and to the development of his signature explosion events. Cai’s accolades include the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, the Praemium Imperiale in 2012, and the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts in 2012. Cai also served as Director of Visual and Special Effects for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Major solo exhibitions include Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument (2006) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and retrospective I Want to Believe (2008), at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. His most recent explosion event Sky Ladder (2015) was realized off of Huiyu Island, Quanzhou, China.