Lighter than Tai
Armstrong, Keith M. (2008) Lighter than Tai. [Creative Work]
In the Hall of Reverence on Tiananmen Square, Beijing Mao Zedong's body lies in state surrounded by flowers and draped with a Red Flag of Communist China. His casket with a glass top lies on a black stone from Mt. Tai, reflecting the quotation from Sima Qian (China's Han Dynasty historian) that "One's life can be weightier than Mt. Tai or lighter than a goose feather".-----
This pair of performances were a quiet, personal reflection upon what such a once revolutionary expression might mean in today's very different time and place. The work was conceived during the Olympic Cultural Festival showing of Intimate Transactions - during the tumultuous times leading up to China's proudly staged August 2008 Olympics. The rise and rise of China had long been generating major geopolitical, ecological and cross-cultural shifts throughout the region and beyond. In this dramatic epicentre of change and at a time of such great national pride, how might we each act in ways that are ecologically 'mighty' and yet simultaneously have an impact lighter than a goosefeather? This is both a question for China in its relations with the autonomous provinces and the environment as it is for all of us in our own 'local' affairs. However ecologically speaking all that is of local concern is of global concern and noone can therefore be exempt from the need to sustain that which we share in common and must all protect for the future.-----
Performance 1: Tiananmen Square, Beijing: Dropping 100 goose feathers.-----
Performance 2: The summit of Mt Tai, Shandong Province. Building a mountain from Goose Feathers.
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