Vice interviewed Cai Guo-Qiang as the Netflix documentary of his Sky Ladder premiered over the weekend:
Sky Ladder, the work documented in the film, was a project that you failed multiple times trying to complete. What exactly happened?
In the beginning, I didn’t expect at all that there would be a failure. I had already accomplished many great projects that were part of the explosion events, such as Project to Extend the Great Wall of China by 10,000 Meters: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 10 (1993), or Earth Has Its Black Hole Too: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 16 (1994). But during my first attempt at Sky Ladder in Bath, England in 1994, the aviation company told me that I needed a permit, otherwise flights would crash into the balloon. It was perfectly fine otherwise, but I could not do it at that time. Later on I obtained the permit and they said that I could attempt the project at a certain time on a certain day, but then it was raining too hard to attempt it on that day. It was then that I realized Sky Ladder was not an easy thing to complete.
How did that failure make you feel?
It excited me even more, maybe because the project was so difficult to realize.