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Image of Bigfoot’s Footprints (Project for Extraterrestrial No. 6)

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Bigfoot’s Footprints (Project for Extraterrestrial No. 6)

Cai Guo-Qiang, Chinese, b. December 8, 1957

Creation date: 1990
Creation place: Japan

Other Information

Type: Ink Painting
Medium and Support: Gunpowder and ink on paper
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Accession Number: 2002.14
Dimensions: 13 in. x 125 3/8 in. (33.02 cm x 318.45 cm)


Christie's, Hong Kong, China (April 28, 2002 - April 28, 2002)

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California (April 28, 2002 - )

Label Copy

November 2004
Past In Reverse: Contemporary Art from East Asia [Historical section]
While living in Japan from 1986-1995, Cai Guo-Qiang created a series titled Project of Extraterrestrials, large-scale explosions that could be seen from great distances. These ambitious performance events often used gunpowder, fireworks, and the imagery of space exploration. In 1989 he began a series of traditional accordion-fold sketchbooks using gunpowder etched into paper to trace out his ideas and the shape of the event in time and space. In image and text, he conceived incidents on earth that would illuminate the cosmos, flowing in the path of earlier sky-gazing cultures that created myths to connect the heavenly with the earthly. Bigfoot's Footprints symbolizes a walk that would take place with one foot on either side of the border of two countries. It was conceived in part as a response to the historical context of 1990, with the transformation of Russia and the Balkan states, ethnic war in former Yugoslavia, and debate about the US/Mexico border all very much in the news (while Cai himself was negotiating to obtain a Japanese visa).

December 2005
Tracking and Tracing Installation
In this evocative visualization of a project that still has not been realized, Cai Guo-Qiang used the traditional format of the accordion sketchbook to conceptualize the project's spatial distribution and to represent the sense of time-lapse necessary to performance. Starting in 1989, Cai Guo-Qiang began a series of ambitious events titled Projects for Extraterrestrials. Meant to metaphorically address an imagined cosmic audience, these projects use gunpowder and fireworks as the medium of land-drawings that, lasting only a few seconds, are designed to be viewed from earth and outer space.
The sketchbook's Chinese inscriptions reads: “200 Bigfoot footprints will be made by pouring paper pulp into a two-meter long footprint-shaped mold. Gunpowder will be laid in these footprints, which will be placed on the border between two countries for a distance of 2,000 meters and connected by gunpowder fuses. With a 20-second series of explosions, the footprints of Bigfoot will stomp over the border and disappear into the beyond. After the explosion, all the footprints will be collected. Obtaining concurrent visas for the two counties where the project will be executed will be an integral part of the performance.”
This work was purchased by SDMA at the June, 2002, auction at Christie's, Hong Kong. It was part of a set of several traditional accordion-fold books by the artist offered at auction. It was purchased in anticipation of the SDMA organized exhibition Past in Reverse: Contemporary Art of East Asia (2004).
Last Updated: 9/14/2021


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum , 2/22/2008 - 5/28/2008


This object has the following bibliographic references:

20th Century Chinese Art Christie's. Hong Kong, China, April 28, 2002
Page Number: Lot no. 128, Figure Number: 128

Dana Friis-Hansen. Cai Guo-Qiang Phaidon Press Limited. London, England, 2002
Page Number: 51, 52-53, 54, Figure Number: 52-53

Ms. Betti-Sue Hertz. Past in Reverse: San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 2004
Page Number: 18-19, 172 no. 6, Figure Number: 6

Ms. Alexandra Munroe. Cai Guo-Qiang: Guggenheim Museum Publications. New York, New York, 2008
Page Number: 103, Figure Number: 49

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