Borrowing Your Enemy’s Arrows...


Borrowing Your Enemy’s Arrowsby Cai Guo-Qiang (1998)
MoMA, New York.
04/06/18 - Cai Guo-Qiang (China, 1957) found an abandoned boat on the coast of his hometown in China. He waited for the mud that covered it to dry out, cleaned it and shipped it to New York. Once installed hanging from the ceiling of the museum, he added 3000 arrows made in China and his country’s flag. Now it looked like something else, maybe a bird, floating in the air.
The artwork, however, refers to an ancient Chinese tale in which General Zhuge Liang, as he waited for the imminent attack of the enemy, knew the battle to be lost because they had no arrows. So he decided to navigate the Yangtze river in deep fog with an army made of natural raffia. His own soldiers stayed by the coast, energetically beating the drums. This surprise attack forced the enemy to discharge hundreds of arrows to the dolls. Thus the brave and clever general was able to return safe and sound, without losing a soldier and with hundreds of arrows for his army. Taking advantage of the strength of the opponent is an estrategic principle of the martial arts and this military episode demonstrates it. 
With this artwork, Cai Guo-Qiang suggests, in a poetic way, the strategy he adopts against foreign intervention.
For the Western culture, the piece is a ready-made, although when seen up close, the boat looks like a body, pierced by pain, floating in the air. 
"Borrowing Your Enemy’s Arrows” is part of MoMA’s permanent collection.

Borrowing Your Enemy’s Arrowsby Cai Guo-Qiang (1998)
MoMA, New York.

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