(English title: There will be no Fire)
(Chinese title: 在未來，不會再有火焰)
In front of the Chancellery in Berlin
Artist Email: email@example.com
Photos taken by marco hinze | berlin: firstname.lastname@example.org
I put portrait photos of 126 deceased Tibetans on the ground. They had all died from self-immolation. One by one, I spread white powder over them and touched my forehead to each picture. As I did so, I said “There will be no fire” in the Tibetan language and the powders came to my face along with my breath.
There will be no fire is a work in which I pay homage to those who have suffered. The work is not a political statement, and I am not much taken by politics generally. But as a member of the human race, I cannot help but be haunted by the fact that these people had decided to burn themselves to death, that they had endured the end of their lives under this horrible and inhumane torture. In Tibetan culture, goodbyes are enacted by touching forehead to forehead; in this work, I pray to each portrait the prayer that the fire will be spent, and at the same time I bid farewell to these men and women. The white powder does not hold any significance in and of itself, its latent possibilities being best left for the viewer to determine. There was no religious motivation behind this performance.
Performance in Berlin in front of the Chancellery
While I was installing this piece I was redirected several times because the space was designated as a protest area. I was sandwiched between two groups of protestors: on my right, a group of Chinese, and on my left a Tibetan group. My performance was happening in the middle. The police told me that I should move more to the Tibetan side so as not to encroach upon the Chinese group. My first impression was that this request was bizarre since I come from Hong Kong and I am myself Chinese. I replied that I wasn’t making a protest but rather doing an art performance, and that I was there as an individual artist, not a member of a protest group.
It wasn’t raining, but it was cloudy and a little bit windy; in the sky we saw Tibetan flags were flying in the air. Once the 126 pictures had been installed, I started my performance. People were walking around to see the pictures; some of them were praying, others were figuring out what was going on in this installation. I knelt down before the pictures in order to bring my forehead to the photos; I spread the powder as I touched them and said “Bhoed nang la maongpa med mi bar” —“There will be no fire”. Once I’d uttered the words, the powder came back on my face, following the pattern of my breathing. I did that for each photo. Although I wasn’t wearing winter clothes, I didn’t feel very cold. After I’d touched the first few rows of pictures, I saw that more people had come to watch my performance and they began to sing. I didn’t know what they were singing about in their language, but I was moved by the fact that my art was communicating with people. Suddenly, I heard someone shouting “Xi Jingping is coming!” and the song was stopped. Soon after that, while I was still performing, people erupted in shouts of protest.
When I had about eight rows of pictures remaining, the police approached my friend and told him that I would have to move the protest nearer to the Tibetan ‘side’ of the square as I was too close to the Chinese protesters. Since I was focusing on my performance, I didn’t know what they were talking about, but my friend told me what the police had requested, and that I might be arrested if we didn’t move. I told the police that I just wanted to finish my performance, and that I would move if I could finish it closer to the Tibetan side. They allowed us to go, we thanked them, and we repositioned the photos closer to the Tibetans. I was able to finish the performance and I got a lot of feedback from the Tibetans and the protestors. They gave me a white scarf to symbolize their gratitude.
This performance allowed me to meet people in Berlin and to be inspired by what they were doing. Thanks go to my friends, the strangers who helped me and Tibet Initiative Deutschland e.V. for their support.
這作品讓我在柏林認識到很多人，並被他們感染。特別感謝幫助我的朋友和 Tibet Initiative Deutschland e.V.的支持。
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