Cai Guo-Xiang, a celebrated Chinese artist who currently resides in New York City, has had quite a unique, in fact, a highly-niche yet enriching career in contemporary arts.
He has been rightly tagged as an 'explosive artist' as pretty much all his artwork involves extensive use of gunpowder resulting in magnificent trails of fireworks.
Guo-Xiang is also widely considered as the only artist whose work has been gazed at by one billion people at the same time. Wondering how that happened?
He created the 'fireworks sculpture' for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, an event that was televised and viewed by a billion people worldwide.
In an interview with Smithsonian.com, Guo-Xiang said that the tremendous spectacle covered a staggering distance of 15 kilometres.
He said: "The explosion event consisted of a series of 29 giant footprint fireworks, one for each Olympiad, over the Beijing skyline, leading to the National Olympic Stadium. The 29 footprints were fired in succession, travelling a total distance of 15 kilometres, or 9.3 miles, within a period of 63 seconds."
Now, the life, times, and inspirations of Guo-Xiang, along with his attempts to stage his most ambitious work, the Sky Ladder (a project that aims to have a 500-metre firework trail straight up in the sky, in the form of a ladder), has been documented by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) in a docu that goes by the same name.
The film opened at this year's Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews, where it was acquired by streaming giant Netflix. It will premiere on the platform on October 14.
The trailer gives a glimpse into the heavily intricate process behind Guo-Xiang's stunning work and also lends an intimate insight into his humble nature while the film itself dwells deep into the artist's traumatic childhood.
Going by its scale and the sweeping way that it has been shot (by Robert Yeoman, Wes Anderson's go-to cinematographer), Sky Ladder looks like an overwhelming spectacle, much like Guo-Xiang's fire sculptures.
Watch the stunning trailer below.
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