Cargo / Host Public Art Project

April 2009

In 2009 the Auckland City Council approached BoomBoom Fireworks with a very interesting proposal. They asked whether we would be interested in firing a fireworks display inside a shipping container, all in the name of art. Two London artists, Gaia Alessi and Richard Bradbury were including a collaborative art piece in the council run “Living Room” public art programme and they needed a fireworks company here in Auckland to help them carry out their artwork, entitled Cargo/Host.

The entire event took place right in the heart of Auckland’s CBD and was repeated over two days.

Predominantly a performance artwork about sound and rhythm, Cargo/Host aims to express both the fear and fascination people have with war (namely the attacks that were taking place in Baghdad at that time) and fireworks themselves. The shipping container which the fireworks were being set off in represented the common housing solution thousands of people in Baghdad deal with.

The proposed location of the event, being right in the middle of town, meant that there had to be maximum security for the entire set and firing period. We certainly got a fair amount of curious stares throughout these days!

We got a great turn out over the two day installation, each performance lasting approximately 10 minutes. The mystery element of the large container placed right in the middle of the pedestrian area was a real draw card.

Although the biggest draw card was definitely the performance itself. A variety of fireworks gave a great rhythm to the piece; the softer crackling pyrotechnics were a real contrast to the giant string of fire-crackers used in the final minute. We left a very small opening between the doors of the container in order for the smoke to escape, but interestingly a few rouge sparks flew out too, adding to that fear element!

Overall it was a most interesting and exciting artwork, a little scary at times too, yet all was maintained in full control. The artists were stoked with the outcome, stating it was the best version of the installation to date. (Other installations were held in Rome and Copenhagen)

The clean up proved intriguing too with the entire insides of the container looking like a war torn site. Very fitting to the concepts of the artwork.