Cai Guo-Qiang: Fallen Blossoms consists of a poetic meditation on the passing of time, memory, and memorializing. One of the artist’s signature “explosion events,” Fallen Blossoms: Explosion Project was specifically commissioned for the exhibition and occurred at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; followed by a second explosion event at the Fabric Workshop and Museum.

Inspired by the memory of Anne d’Harnoncourt (1943-2008), late director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and her long friendship with the founder and artistic director of the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Marion Boulton Stroud, Cai Guo-Qiang: Fallen Blossoms addresses themes of memory, loss and renewal on a personal and public level. It was Cai’s first solo exhibition in Philadelphia and the first in the United States since his retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in early 2008.

Fallen Blossoms: Explosion Project took place at sunset on Friday, December 11 on the East Terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where a blossoming flower shaped from gunpowder fuse was ignited. This was followed by an event featuring the creation of a gunpowder drawing at the Fabric Workshop and Museum.

Each event was momentary. For presentation at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, a high-definition video of the explosion was shown at a significantly slower rate, so that viewers could witness the flower's blossoming and vanishing with a continual perception of time, presenting the desire to capture the simultaneous bloom and decay. The installation poetically addressed time's passage and the important role memory plays in attending to the past.