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Acclaim for Beijing Olympics Fireworks Chief Designer

Cai Guoqiang, chief designer of the fireworks display at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony last August, has been awarded the Arts and Culture Prize at this year's Fukuoda Asian Culture Prizes, as well as 3 million yen ($330,000) in prize money for his acute awareness of contemporary issues and the originality and universality of his creative abilities.

Organizers of the prizes said in a statement that Cai, in his practice as an artist, has always been ahead of international artistic society in the originality with which he expresses his spectacular vision of mankind and the universe, while at the same time breaking down existing artistic concepts.

Cai, a 52-year-old native of Quanzhou, in south China's Fujian Province, now lives in New York. He is considered one of the most exciting contemporary artists in the world, renowned for his art creations using gunpowder explosions and fireworks. As the winner of the Venice Biennale International Prize (Golden Lion) in 1999, his other stunning works also include a cityscape firework show in Shanghai in 2001.

The Fukuoda Asian Culture Prizes was inaugurated in 1990 to honor outstanding achievements by individuals, groups or organizations in preserving and creating the unique and diverse cultures of Asia.

Well done Cai! Despite the faked footprints, which were a massive disappointment, the vision was there. If only you had been allowed to do it for real it would have been the most specatular fireworks event in history. Unfortunately the faking took most of the headlines, leaving Cai and his no doubt hard-working team largely upraised. We all love a good fireworks display but remember people, if you are going to do it, do it properly. If the footprints were not able to be done for real, they should not have been done at all. Lesson learned.

Credit for the first 4 paragraphs of this blog goes to BeijingReview.com.cn

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