Language Tags

Language Tags 1.1

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Description: Words and phrases were collected from language phrasebooks and city guide books that related to the Action Researcher/Performers experience of Beijing.  These words were then translated into either Mandarin character or English and hand written onto separate pieces of paper with a safety pin attached to the top.  Two Action Researcher/Performers each carried a separate bag of tags, the language in their possession corresponding to their own native tongue.  The Action Researcher/Performers situated themselves on Wanfujing Dajie, the main commercial pedestrian thoroughfare in central Beijing and then started to attach the tags to each another.  Both wore facemasks (typically used by street cleaners in Beijing at the time) to express that they were unable to speak to, or understand each other.  When a number of very inquisitive locals stopped to ask questions, the Action Researcher/Performers attached tags to their clothes as well.  Soon, three police officers arrived and after a spirited discussion the project was allowed to continue under the proviso that the Action Researcher/Performers kept moving to relieve the pedestrian congestion.  Once all of the tags had been pinned, the layering of paper unintentionally resembled a form of protective 'linguistic' armour. 

© Astra Howard 2014