Wolves In Sheep's Clothing
Mairi Beautyman -- Interior Design, 10/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Cai Guo-Qiang's pair of cast-resin crocodiles, pierced by hundreds of knives confiscated at airport security checkpoints, spent this past summer looming over the roof garden at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, the multimedia artist's animal theme took on a somewhat different guise. "Cai Guo-Qiang: Head On" featured 99 life-size wolves.
"I chose the wolf because the species represents a collective heroism, living in a pack," he explains. "They're also meant to portray the universal human tragedy resulting from our blind urge to press forward to attain our goals without compromise."
Suspended on fishing wire, the wolves in this pack leap toward a glass wall, crash into it, and tumble—writhing and snarling—to the ground. Cai attributes the verisimilitude to his experiments with small-scale clay models. The entire group was then produced over a six-month period in his hometown of Quanzhou, China.
As real as the wolves look, each is actually a painted sheepskin stretched over wire stuffed with hay. Eyes are marble; teeth, gums, lips, nose, and paw pads are plastic. It's the painstaking detail coupled with the fluidity of motion that instills this work with life.