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Note: On January 3, 2005, the artist Wang Nanfei joined other Chinese artists at the Jinshanling Great Wall north of Beijing to participate in the French artist Nicola L’s “Blue Cape” performance art event An Ephemeral, Living Moment. Below is Nanfei’s story on the event that was published in the February 2005 issue of Beijing This Month magazine, an English-language magazine in China's capital city. (See other links below.)

The "Blue Cape" in Beijing, with 12 Artists

An Ephemeral, Living Moment


“I think an artist cannot close themselves in their studios to explore their ideas and thinking conditions…. They should be very curious about what’s happening in the world and get in touch with this world” __ Nicola L.



A desire to become more in touch with the world brought French artist Nicola L. and her “Blue Cape” performance to Beijing and the Jinshanling Great Wall in January.

The “Blue Cape” is at once a monumental sculpture, an event, a concept, and a cause that propels the conceptual artist into the world outside her studio where she offers both functional and performance works.

Nicola L. does not build monuments in marble, bronze or stone; her works do not depict famous people on their horses. She creates her works with fibre and plastic in a form that allows people to inhabit them, as with the blue cape. They are moveable and are brought to life by people, even if for a short time only. They move because people in the blue cape are moving. They are historical because the blue cape and the people who inhabit it are together for a few purposeful moments at most.

Nicola L. feeds emotionally and intellectually on these moments, as she did with the An Ephemeral, Living Moment performance of the “Blue Cape” on January 3.

“She was very happy with the performance at Jinshanling,” Laetitia Gauden, director, Imagine Gallery, said. “She did not expect the people to do what they did. Most of her performances are held in silence, but at the Great Wall people began to recite poetry spontaneously. This had never happened before.”

Before the performance began, Nicola L. asked a first group of 12 Beijing-based artists what they considered monumental in their lives. Their responses ranged from personal thoughts to immediate impressions that the Great Wall itself was the most monumental thing at that moment. Even though bound together by the blue cape, the artists gave individual responses, yet the common theme of their comments was that art involves the communication of a global culture; art emphasizes the commonalities in world culture and similar notions.

As a second group edged up a section of the wall, led by Ling Fei and Ling Li, they began to recite Mao Zedong’s poem, “Snow” (1936), a poem that advises people to live in their own time, with an awareness of its greatness.

“This added humour and happiness to the event that delighted Nicola L.,” Benoit Coze, artistic director of the Imagine Gallery, said.

Why a blue cape?

Even though Nicola L. has other “capes” and may use a red cape in subsequent happenings in Beijing, she chose blue for the Jinshanling performance, because “the colour blue represents the lives of the common Chinese people, nature, the sky, the ocean and peace,” Nicola L. said.

Why 12 portals in the blue cape and 12 artists?

She said the number 12 constantly recurs, as in 12 months; 12 o’clock; or as the 12 symbols of the Chinese zodiac.

The “Blue Cape” event has already been shown in Havana, Cuba; at La Mostra in Venice; at the Art Modern Museum in Switzerland and in Los Angeles, California.

She chose the Great Wall as the site of this “Blue Cape” performance to experience a contrast of two different kinds of monuments, the monumental structure that is the Great Wall and the monumental concept that is the blue cape.

The photographic and film record of the Jinshanling event will be shown in subsequent “Blue Cape” events expected in New York (the next stop for “Blue Cape”) and elsewhere, adding another moment to the storied history of China’s Great Wall.

Ling Fei told participants that organizers are trying to arrange Nicola L.’s next performance in Beijing, which may be a “Red Cape” exhibition on Tiananmen Square near the end of 2005.

SNOW

(To the tune of Chin Yuan Chun)

February 1936, a North country scene:

A hundred leagues locked in ice,
A thousand leagues of whirling snow.
Both sides of the Great Wall
One single white immensity.
The Yellow River's swift current
Is stilled from end to end.
The mountains dance like silver snakes
And the highlands charge like wax-hued elephants,
Vying with heaven in stature.
On a fine day, the land,
Clad in white, adorned in red,
Grows more enchanting.
This land so rich in beauty
Has made countless heroes bow in homage.
But alas! Chin Shih-huang and Han Wu-ti
Were lacking in literary grace,
And Tang Tai-tsung and Sung Tai-tsu
Had little poetry in their souls;
And Genghis Khan,
Proud Son of Heaven for a day,
Knew only shooting eagles, bow outstretched
All are past and gone!
For truly great men
Look to this age alone.

See the poem in Chinese at: http://www.cnpoem.net/MusicList.asp?Specialid=6756

See Imagine Gallery at:
Shangri-la, Feijiacun,
Cuigezhang, Laiguangying Donglu
Beijing 100088
Phone: +86 13662216146
WWW: http://www.imagine-gallery.com/