"Sky Ladder" by Cai Guoqiang. (Photo provided to CGTN by douban.com)
You may not know him, but you have definitely seen his work – the giant footprints in mid-air firework tracing along the central axis of the Chinese capital at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Now a documentary on the artist, "Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guoqiang," is coming to Chinese mainland theaters in late September.
Born in 1957, Cai is one of the most recognized Chinese artists in the West. He was the first Chinese artist to win the Venice Biennale International Golden Lion Prize in 1999.
Directed by Oscar-winning auteur Kevin Macdonald, the film follows the ascend of the well-known artist as he works in different mediums for different patrons.
Cai is best-known for his experimental works with pyrotechnic. The film begins with his recent work "Sky Ladder" – a 500-meter ladder made of rope and gunpowder hung from a giant hot-balloon over a fishing village in Quanzhou, southeast China's Fujian Province in 2015.
Cai has been trying for more than two decades to complete the work after multiple failed attempts.
"Art is the time tunnel for me to travel through the universe. I expect dialogues, process and mutual engagement," said Cai. "Sky Ladder" symbolized his curiosity to the universe and the nature as a child. It was also a gift to his grandmother.
The film also tells Cai's family life and personal growth, his art career and behind-the-scene stories. It also included interviews from several sources close to Cai.
Macdonald spent three years shooting the film, following Cai's steps all over the world – from New York and Buenos Aries to Shanghai, Beijing, and his hometown Quanzhou.
"Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guoqiang" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. in October last year and was launched to critical claim on the streaming site Netflix.
The film will land in Chinese theaters on September 22.