Sunday, May 26, 2013

Jennifer Wen Ma

Havoc in Heaven: Sun Wukong and Political Activism

New Adventures of Havoc in Heaven I

As China was preparing to show off Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, thousands of people who helped build the city were bussed out of town and many others were arrested for their protestsThe government had deemed these people as not being good enough to be seen by the world. They were not invited to participate in the festivities. Chinese-American Jennifer Wen Ma, who was part of the creative team for the Beijing Olympics compared the incident to the Great Immortal Peach Festival from the great Chinese epic, Journey to the West.

New Adventures of Havoc in Heaven III

For those unfamiliar with the story of Journey the the West (arguably China's greatest epic), the most beloved character is a mischievous and naughty monkey. He is a symbol of anarchy and a mascot of rebellion towards all authoritarian figures – including the Jade Emperor and Buddah! Monkey is such a recognizable symbol of China, he was ironically used by the BBC as a mascot for the 2008 Olympic coverage.

BBC Sport's Olympics Monkey

In one of the most memorable tales of monkey's adventures, all the immortals of heaven were invited to a great peach festival to commemorate their immortality. Every 3000 years the immortals ate the fruit from the immortal peach trees. Monkey, however, was not invited to the feast. Furious for not receiving an invitation, monkey takes revenge by ambushing the feast and eating all of the peaches, thereby destroying the party. The flesh of the peach fruit granted the monkey immortality and he declared himself "equal to heaven" and launches a campaign of revenge – an all-out war against the immortals of heaven. He is so powerful, no one can hope to stop him as he creates "havoc in heaven".

Monkey Stealing the Immortal Peaches

The New Adventures of Havoc in Heaven I, originally titled The Monkey King, is the beginning of a series of smoke-screen animations projected over historical landmarks. During the Olympics Jennifer Wen Ma hoped that there could be a hero who would stand up to the injustices and abuses of the Chinese government. There was most likely an intention of inciting an uprising with the piece and many cops were placed on standby while the monkey was projected into the sky.

New Adventures of Havoc in Heaven III

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