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Terra Cotta Army's Newest Recruit
Performance stunt left unpunished by the Chinese authorities
Ronald Schaefer (rs050474)     Print Article 
Published 2006-09-20 07:40 (KST)   
You can see them on all the major squares in Europe. I am talking about performance artists that disguise themselves as Roman gladiators, medieval knights, Egyptian sphinxes and the like and stand motionlessly and unblinkingly in front of one of the city's major attractions. Some tourists like this kind of show and happily throw a few cents or even a euro or two at their feet. Others just feel annoyed. In some areas, these artists have to be constant on the look out for police, who would shoo them away if they caught sight of them.

A few days ago, a German art student chose a most unlikely place for his performance stunt, a 2,200-year-old Chinese tomb.

Pablo Wendel, 26, a self-proclaimed fan of the terra cotta warriors in Xian, decided that the Army needed a new recruit and jumped into the pit. He wore a self-designed gown and hat, much like the ones worn by the 2,000 clay soldiers, and had even brought a rectangular pedestal with him. He then found an empty spot among the warriors and stood there motionless.

It took several minutes for the on-site security guards to distinguish the fake warrior from the real ones.

One of them later said, "I got to the area where he was supposed to be, looked around and didn't see him, he looked too much like a terra cotta warrior."

Even after he was uncovered, Wendel refused to leave and had to be carried out, stiff as a log, by six of the officials. They later had pictures taken with their captive that clearly showed their sense of amusement about the whole thing.

After questioning and reprimanding the student for some time, they let him go without filing charges, as no damage had been done. They said that Wendel, who has "always dreamt of disguising [himself] as a terra cotta warrior among the real ones," has shown his true passion for the subject, but confiscated his costume before sending him back to his college in Hangzhou.

What can we learn from this amusing episode? Have we maybe witnessed the birth of a new kind of performance art, one that is not money oriented, but fueled by a true passion for the subject? Or is it that the Chinese police suddenly developed a sense of humor? If so, that can only be a good thing for the future of China.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronald Schaefer

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