ArtView June 2014 - Page 38

The Boxer Rebellion Chinese Imperial often failed. And their ritualism, cutting off limbs and gouging eyes, chanting and singing during attacks on enemy positions, which left them rather vulnerable, and belief in being bulletproof was strange and obscure. None are left now, but Mao would regularly parade a few for political purposes to invoke the spirit of the true Chinese revolutionary. China has no need of armies of farmers now, it has a military that has all the tricks and toys of death and destruction, but the century of humiliation still nags at the Chinese psyche – after 5000 years of culture, how did they end up so far behind the West rather than ahead? I imagined a time in the future when China might be tricked again by the West like the Opium Wars, perhaps a large purchase of treasury bonds, like a global TARP, to save Europe who then defaults and leaves China with worthless paper. Such an event might trigger a national outcry, certainly a rallying call for those still carrying the hurt from previous offences, which become opportunities to be exploited. I was also really interested to create a character that would draw on genuine and relevant ritualism that was part of the character’s life and youth, not just paying homage to activities and practices that seem spooky and unnerving. Boxers drew on Chinese history and have strong connections with the I-Ching and the quest for immortality, which they interpreted as being bulletproof. While the ritualism includes use of the I-Ching symbol, it also included the use of red lanterns to warn friends from foes, vicious mutilation of enemy bodies, the need for symmetry and chants and slogans. Supporters who gathered as the Boxers gained prominence in the larger war, also created manipulative chain letters that required the recipient to give money or face eternal damnation. The history