Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies
by artist Cai Guo-Qiang Commissioned by the Association for Public Art with Fung Collaboratives
Homepage banner media credit:
Video by 33 Studio Cai Guo-Qiang, proposal for Fireflies, 2015. Digital Rendering. Courtesy Cai Studio

Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies

September 15 - October 8, 2017, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia

  • Internationally renowned artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s largest public art project in the US in a decade
  • Commissioned by the Association for Public Art with Fung Collaboratives on the occasion of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s centennial, with major support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
  • 27 customized pedicabs adorned with hundreds of luminous colorful lanterns will glide along the Parkway at night, drawing on memories of the traditional lantern festivals of the artist’s childhood
  • Runs September 15 – October 8, 2017 on the Parkway, Thursdays through Sundays from 6-10pm
  • Opening celebration and world premiere is September 14th, with a special artist-led public performance
  • Free public rides in the pedicabs begin September 15th with one-way trips from Iroquois Park to Sister Cities Park and vice versa. Walk-ups are welcome and online reservations will be coming soon.


Fireflies logo

*Free public rides in the Fireflies pedicabs begin Friday, September 15th, the day after the opening celebration and world premiere. Participants may board the vehicles at Iroquois Park or Sister Cities Park on the Parkway. Walk-ups are welcome and online reservations will be available. These are one-way rides with the option of reserving a return trip online. Stay tuned for more information!

 

members of the public are invited to board the vehicles to take rides up and down the Parkway from Sister Cities Park at Logan Square to Iroquois Park across from Eakins Oval

In September 2017, the Association for Public Art (aPA) in Philadelphia presents a major new site-specific work by the internationally acclaimed artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Commissioned by aPA with Fung Collaboratives on the occasion of the centennial of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies invites the public to actively experience the grand boulevard as a nocturnal dreamscape conjured from the languorous movements of bobbing clusters of glowing handcrafted Chinese lanterns and groups of customized peddle vehicles. Nine hundred illuminated lanterns in a bevy of colors and shapes will float along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, held aloft by a fleet of 27 pedicabs.

Pedicab prototype
Fireflies pedicab prototype. Photo Johanna Austin © 2017 for the Association for Public Art.

Fireflies, the artist’s largest public art project in the US in a decade, runs for approximately four weekends: September 14 to October 8, 2017, Thursdays through Sundays from 6-10pm. Beginning September 15, members of the public are invited to board the vehicles to take rides up and down the Parkway from Sister Cities Park at Logan Square to Iroquois Park across from Eakins Oval.

The lanterns in Fireflies are being handcrafted in Cai Guo-Qiang’s hometown of Quanzhou, China. Their bright, twinkling lights evoke the artist’s own childhood memories. Among them will be orb and star shaped lanterns, as well as designs of emojis; pandas, roosters and tigers; space aliens and UFOs; cars, trains, boats, submarines, helicopters, and rocket ships; and hamburgers, sushi, and donuts. Transported to Philadelphia, their various colors and shapes evoke the diverse cultures and peoples that come from all over the world to take root in the United States.

Major support for Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

 

 

Support Fireflies!

Your gift will support the world premiere of Fireflies in Philadelphia.

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Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang with children and lanterns in Quanzhou, China
Cai Guo-Qiang with children and lanterns in Quanzhou, China. Photo courtesy Cai Studio.

For more than 25 years, Cai Guo-Qiang’s practice has spanned a range of media in contemporary art, including drawing, installation, video, and performance art, as well as a range of Chinese traditions in medicine, art, and place making. The artist is famous for his virtuosic and poetic use of fireworks and gunpowder and has been honored with many awards, including the 48th Venice Biennale International Golden Lion Prize in 1999, the 2013 U.S. Department of State’s Medal of Arts, and the Praemium Imperiale in 2012. In 2016, Netflix released Sky Ladder, a 1 hour and 44 minute film documenting one of Cai Guo-Qiang’s most celebrated public projects.

Opening Celebration | Thursday, September 14th

Featuring a performance directed by Cai Guo-Qiang

OPENING CELEBRATION AND WORLD PREMIERE OF CAI GUO-QIANG: FIREFLIES
Thursday, September 14, 2017
6:30 – 9:30PM | Remarks and Performance at 7:30PM
*Starting time has been changed from 6PM to 6:30PM
Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA

A free public celebration kicks off Fireflies on Thursday, September 14, featuring a one-time-only public performance directed by Cai Guo-Qiang. The artist will orchestrate a dream-like light and movement performance with the Fireflies pedicabs, creating a luminous choreography on the Parkway. Attendees are invited to observe the delicate aerial dance of the pedicabs and their lanterns from a distance. Food trucks will also be on site.

*Public rides in Fireflies begin the following day, Friday, September 15th! Reservations will be available, but walk-ups are welcomed. More information on how to make a reservation coming soon.

Fireflies logo

 

Support Fireflies!

Contributions of $90 or more will receive a special reserved seat for the Fireflies performance. Contributions of $270 or more will receive an invitation to the VIP reception with the artist. Click below to make a gift today!

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Routes and Access

Experience Fireflies as a passenger or spectator

Fireflies on the Parkway
Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Photo Jeff Fusco Photography © 2017 for the Association for Public Art

The public is encouraged to take free rides in the Fireflies pedicabs or enjoy the illuminated vehicles from a distance. Participants can board the pedicabs at Iroquois Park or Sister Cities Park on the Parkway, Thursdays through Sundays from 6pm-10pm (September 15 – October 8, 2017). Walk-ups are welcome and online reservations will be available (coming soon). These are one-way rides on the Parkway that take approximately 15 minutes with the option of reserving a return trip online.

More information coming soon!

ROUTE 1: Iroquois Park to Sister Cities Park 

 

ROUTE 2: Sister Cities Park to Iroquois Park

Thank you to our Supporters and Partners!

Major support for Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the Association for Public Art (aPA), John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, Prudent Management Associates Independence Foundation, the Hess Foundation, Glenmede, and individual donors. In-kind support provided by Tierney; Pennsylvania Convention Center; Expert Events; Park Towne Place Museum District Residences; The Logan, Philadelphia’s Hotel; China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia; Materials Conservation; Sang Kee Peking Duck House; and media sponsor WHYY. Our partners include: Velo-Park; Philadelphia Parks & Recreation; Philadelphia Streets Department; the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy; Center City District; Visit Philadelphia; and The Parkway Council (as of August 2017).

 

Support Fireflies!

Questions? Contact contributions@associationforpublicart.org

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About the Association for Public Art

The Association for Public Art (aPA, formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) commissions, preserves, interprets, and promotes public art in Philadelphia. The aPA is the nation’s first private nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a “Museum Without Walls” that informs, engages, and inspires diverse audiences. We honor the past while supporting originality and innovation, and we advance opportunities for creative people to contribute to the city’s places and spaces. Established in 1872, the aPA integrates public art and urban design through exemplary programs and advocacy efforts that connect people with public art.

 

About Fung Collaboratives

As chief curator of Fung Collaboratives, Lance Fung conceives and realizes art exhibitions around the world.  These include The Snow Show (2003-2006), wherein he partnered artists with architects to realize structures made primarily from snow and ice; Lucky Number Seven, the seventh SITE Santa Fe International Biennial, for which he assembled 26 artists from outside the US to create site-specific installations; and Artlantic (2012-2014), which transformed vacant lots in Atlantic City via “giant living sculptures.” Currently he is organizing Migrations for the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to bring ephemeral, temporary and permanent artworks along and within the Bay Trails.

For more information, the media may contact

Anne Edgar, anne@anneedgar.com, 646-567-3586