DC at Night

DC at Night

Friday, November 30, 2012

Now Please Don't Try This with Your Tree

Merry Black Christmas
 It had to be one of the most unique Christmas tree lightings in D.C. history. As hundreds of spectators stood on the National Mall outside the Sackler Gallery and snapped pictures yesterday, Cai Guo-Qiang, the Chinese artist known for his Olympic pyrotechnics display and gunpowder art, used a 40-foot Christmas tree to stage an Explosion Event based on Christmas tree lighting ceremonies across the country.

Actually, the event, which Guo-Qiang labeled "Black Christmas Tree," was a series of 3 quick, separate  explosions. In the first, the tree was enshrouded in black smoke. In the second, the explosion made it appear that Christmas lights were twinkling all over the tree. The 3rd explosion sent a black cloud (I kept thinking of the smoke monster in the TV show Lost)  in the shape of a Christmas tree skyward until it dissembled into something reminiscent of a Chinese ink painting and eventually dissipated. Guo-Chiang used more than 2,000 custom-made fireworks in his presentation.

The tree back to normal
Just prior to the show, Sackler officials said the event had 2 purposes - it was part of the celebration of the institution's 25th anniversary and also marked a half-century of the State Department sponsoring its Art in Embassies program.

Earlier, Allison Peck, the Sackler's head of public relations, explained the multiple meanings to The Washington Post. "The work itself is not necessarily about Christmas. It has the spirit of a sparkling holiday tree, but it's more than that. It references his (Guo-Qiang's) past work; it references Chinese brush drawings and it's in honor of our anniversary," Peck said.

And any environmentalists concerned about the impact of the special event  need not worry. The smoke was made of charcoal, which is environmentally friendly and the tree was unharmed and will be replanted in a new location.

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