In the span of human history, an individual life blazes up and quickly extinguishes. A life of renown perhaps shines more brightly, leaving behind spots in the eyes, a billow of smoke, but is still transient, immaterial. By igniting a lotus blossom, symbol of spiritual awakening, pure beauty rising above murky waters, Guo-Qiang pays tribute to a fleeting life of artistic leadership and vision. Covering the museum’s facade for a single afternoon, the memorial both illuminates and violates the temple behind, highlighting its grandeur and invoking its vulnerability. Uncollectable, unrepeatable, the artwork sharply contrasts the assumption of institutional permanence embodied in the museum.
(At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, December 11, 2009.)