Blank Leaflets

October 16, 2011


The Polish artist Tomasz Wiktor is doing the performance on the street.
(From Tomasz Wiktor’s video “I’m mobile”)

SHANGHAI, China — The police stopped a Polish artist who was handing out blank leaflets on one of this city’s busiest streets for disturbing “social order” today.

Polish artist Tomasz Wiktor shuttled among the crowd and gave the leaflets to passers-by, while a camera recorded the event for a video called “I’m mobile“.  Wiktor got the inspiration of this performance from the aggressive real-life leafleteers in China.  This performance followed up on his last one “Immobile“, exploring individuals’ active and passive actions, interactions between people and the relationship between people’s movements and space.

On East Nanjing Road this afternoon,  most of the people hurried away with a confused look but some stopped and asked about the purpose of the blank paper.  Wiktor didn’t answer and kept on doing his work.  A middle-aged Chinese man walked up to Wiktor’s assistant, dropped the paper in front of the running camera and angrily asked, “What’s this for?”

Three minutes later, a junior policeman moved towards Wiktor and gave the order, “No!” Wiktor ignored him and thrust a flyer into his hand.  Then another two junior policemen arrived and three of them circled around Wiktor.   After a while, a woman city administrator drove up.  She got out of the car, walked to the artist and asked him what he was doing.  Wiktor turned a blind eye to her, too.  A little later, a policeman dressed in a black uniform and cap reached the scene by motorcycle.  He stopped Wiktor and asked him to show his passport.  Instead, Wiktor gave him a flyer.

Eventually the chief police officer arrived on the scene and talked with Wiktor.   Instantly, dozens of onlookers surrounded them.  Wiktor emerged from the crowd after talking with the cheif police officer.  “He asked me to change a place since he thought I made people confused and disturbed the social order,” Wiktor said.  “He also said the consequence would be terrible if I didn’t leave.  So I decide to move.”

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