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Cai Guo-Qiang | Borrowing Your Enemy's Arrows

Artist Cai Guo-Qiang recounts the third-century tale that inspired his work "Borrowing Your Enemy's Arrows." See this work in person through April 2016, as part of the exhibition "Scenes for a New Heritage: Contemporary Art from the Collection." Learn more: http://bit.ly/1LXBVPe.

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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Dayvyd
    Was this the same Zhuge Liang as from the Three Kingdoms Era?

    And, was this story about the enemy's arrows ever able to be confirmed, or might it perhaps be legend?
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user

Video transcript

We dug the boat out of the mire at the seashore in my hometown. It was actually covered in sludge. So we waited till the tide had taken some of the sludge away to dig the boat out. Then we cleaned and disassembled it, and eventually brought it to New York. I wanted to expose the skeleton the frame of the boat, which looked more like an artwork. The story of borrowing the enemy's arrows is about borrowing the opponent's strength to make oneself strong in a short time. There was a very resourceful general called Zhuge Liang. He filled the boats with straw soldiers and sailed toward the enemy's camp. Mistaking the boats with straw soldiers for a surprise attack the enemy showered the decoys with volleys of arrows. The boat is a very familiar object to me. It is one of the earliest vehicles that helped humans understand their relationship with gravity. However, when the body of the boat is full of arrows like feathers it suddenly transforms into a bird and seems able to fly.