Friday, June 3, 2011

Ai Weiwei & Tienanmen: Girl with mask stages silent protest in Beijing


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Alessandro Rolandi







“The Girl with the Mask” by Alessandro Rolandi





"There is no violence; there is a moment of strangement in which a whole context is transformed, a whole situation obeying to well-established rules is suddenly made to look random and illogical." Alessandro Rolandi








"Be Have!" Alessandro Rolandi´s wall-writing with lights in Beijing, titled: "Post-It"


Beijing, Friday, 3 June 2011

It's around 8.45 a.m.  I'm on the way to take my kid to school. 

I'm driving along the Airport Expressway in the direction of Dashanzi, when I can testify seeing a wonderful act of courage, artistic bliss and political meaning.

In the middle of the highway a slim, tall girl dressed with a tulle miniskirt, high heels and a white pirate-like shirt. 

She walks slowly between the cars. 

She wears a purple mask, one of those you see in the Venice Carnival. 

The vision she creates seems to come out from a movie, something between Visconti's Decadence and the Kubrick of Eyes Wide Shut.

In fact, she is real, and she is slowing down the cars with choreographed gestures of her hands while walking in the opposite direction to the traffic.


The traffic is the one of Beijing early morning, thousands of cars queuing up diligently; inside of them, thousands of individuals going to work and pursuing their Chinese Dream. 

4 June 1989 The small man halting tanks

Ambition, resilience and pragmatism, underneath a blue Parisian-like sky provided by the government´s latest technological devices to manipulate the weather.

By the time I pull over in a safe place and check again it is over. 






She is not there anymore. I strongly hope she got away with it.

This kind of gesture is representative of the power of art when applied with subtlessness, sensitivity and unconditioned freedom. 

There is no violence; there is a moment of strangement in which a whole context is transformed, a whole situation obeying to well-established rules is suddenly made to look random and illogical. 

A mysterious gesture, simple and out of context, makes those solid rules become fragile and arbitrary; it opens an empty space where we stand silent, realizing that everything is possible, that normality is held together only by our own acceptance and nothing else. 

The cars, the huge highway´s lanes, the hot concrete, the metal, the sense of urge and necessity for all this is put on standby. 
 
Even the noise seems to calm down a bit. 

All these metal animals running in their concrete jungle slow down and behave to the hand of a strange tamer appeaing from nowhere.

In 1974, Philippe Petit walked on a wire suspended between the Twin Towers in New York shortly after completion. 

 He walked back and forth for 45 minutes before giving himself over to authorities. 

He kept the whole of New York at a stand-still, contemplating the beauty and the fragility of his gesture. 

When asked why he did this, he answered, "I don't know, it's about the mystery." You can watch this in the film-documentary MAN ON THE WIRE.

The girl with the mask today knows very well why she did this.

Like an apparition she appeared in traffic, wove her protest and vanished. (Photograph by Stefan van Drake)
 
She moved between the cars and stopped them, tamed them.

She did this the day before the 22nd anniversary of the events of 1989 in Tien An Men Square.

I'm sure seeing her the Beijingners must have felt weird, then probably even amused for awhile. 

They will have something to talk about today during their lunch breaks.

Few of them, though, together with some foreigners and other people maybe watching from the windows of their buildings, will experience also an image coming back from their subconscious.

A little man with a plastic bag standing alone in front of a tank.

He moved a few steps anytime the tank tried to pass at his side; he held the whole column of tanks still--one man, one human being who just had had enough of what was happening.

The girl with the mask is not alone and desperate. She is not acting out her last chance. She is sending a bold and symbolic message. 

China has a long tradition of romantic outlaws´ storytelling. 

Bandits have been celebrated and praised for their courage and the importance of their role in shaping history.

The girl with the mask is the trickster-artist, the Robin Hood coming out of the forest to awake the villagers and mock the arrogant princes; she is not alone, more will come, appear, hit and disappear.


"A mysterious gesture, simple and out of context, makes those solid rules become fragile and arbitrary; it opens an empty space where we stand silent, realizing that everything is possible, that normality is held together only by our own acceptance and nothing else." 


The Girl with the Mask, by Alessandro Rolandi


Alessandro Rolandi, age 40, is artist in residence at Harrow International School, Beijing since 2003, teaching art and experimental theatre. He has taught or lectured in eight schools, including Institut d´Edudes de Paris. He is also a film maker, actor, theatre director and author. Rolandi, born in Pavia, Italy, has staged 12 solo exhibitions and participated in 24 group shows. He is an occasional ArtTraveler contributing writer.
His mission:

"I observe, borrow, change and document reality to create possibilities that challenge our current socio-political structures and point out the effects they have on our daily life and on our scheme of thought."


Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler™

Check out a sculpture or mosaics workshop or walking tour in our beautiful mountains. See: www.spanjeanders.nl and www.competafinearts.com.


"Sierra Sky," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)


Contact me at stefanvandrake@gmail.com or by calling (34) 951 067 703; from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.



1 comment:

  1. Beijing exclusive: The girl with the mask weaves protest through traffic is a happening with guts for a personal space. Bravo.

    ReplyDelete