Life is a Milonga: Tango Fireworks for Argentina

Cai Guo-Qiang Studio
Feb 2, 2015 5:38PM
We are pleased to share news about Cai's latest explosion event, titled Life is a Milonga: Tango Fireworks for Argentina. The event took place in Buenos Aires at Vuelta de Rocha, outside Fundación PROA in the traditional neighborhood of La Boca on January 24, 2015.
The artist’s first explosion event in South America, Tango Fireworks is the first of this type and scope in Argentina. Honoring La Boca’s role in the history of tango, Cai was moved to design conceptual fireworks inspired by tango music and dance, retracing tango's development, and through its lens, the history of Argentina during the 20th century. In addition to the fireworks, tango music and dance, the ephemeral artwork also featured public participation.
Tango Fireworks lasted over 80 minutes in total, and it used 43,810 shots of fireworks, including aerial, aquatic, and text fireworks launched from floating platforms and from the ground. The pyrotechnic design followed three distinct approaches. First, there were fireworks closely mimicking the movements of dancers, and in the background, the movements of the bandoneón. The second approach took inspiration from the melody and rhythm of the music, with fireworks evoking the mood of each song. Lastly, there were fireworks that aimed to express the overarching feelings prompted by specific historical periods.
Over the course of the creative process, Cai collaborated with specialists such as musicologists Omar Viola and Federico Elguero, who also advised on the music selection; choreographer Jose Garófalo; along with dancers Paula Ferrío, Lautaro Cancela, Jorgelina Guzzi, and the dance troupe Corporación Tango. The movements of all of these dancers were filmed in advance in order to create the pyrotechnic design for specific themes, the dancers were again invited to perform these themes on the stage for Tango Fireworks. An orchestra led by Pablo Guzmán performed live music at key moments of the event. Friends of the artist from New York also took part in the performance, including: the 2014 World International Ballroom Pro-Am Champion, and USA National Champion, Celia Chou and Erminio Stefano, the 2011 USA Argentine Tango Champion, Sidney Grant.
By combining the power of history, music, dance and contemporary visual art, over two hundred thousand people from all over Buenos Aires who attended the event were able to tap once again into the rich vein of La Boca's cultural heritage, symbolically transforming Vuelta de Rocha and its riverbank into one large open air "Milonga Popular."

Life is a Milonga: Tango Fireworks for Argentina


Vuelta de Rocha outside Fundación Proa, La Boca, Buenos Aires, January 24, 8:00 pm, approximately 80 minutes

43,810 shots of mono-shot fireworks

Commissioned by Fundación Proa and Fundación Alon, with support from the City Government of Buenos Aires

Video Credits Videography by Fernando Molnar  Editing by Andres Ciambotti
Image Credits
1. Photo by Santiago Porter, (c) Fundación PROA & Cai Studio, courtesy Fundación PROA 2. Photo by Tatsumi Masatoshi, (c) Fundación PROA & Cai Studio, courtesy Cai Studio 3. Photo by Ronnie Keegan, (c) Fundación PROA & Cai Studio, courtesy Cai Studio 4. Photo by Jorge Miño, (c) Fundación PROA & Cai Studio, courtesy Fundación PROA 5. Photo by Wen-You Cai, (c) Fundación PROA & Cai Studio, courtesy Cai Studio
Cai Guo-Qiang Studio