Bodies Upon the Gears

standing bodies, dancing bodies, social bodies.

Two extremely different events — the “Tank Man” from the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and a white man getting his groove on at the Sasquatch Music Festival — but they seem oddly connected to me as examples of individuals sparking democratic collective consciousness and action through use of their bodies.

The “Tank Man” is iconic, serious, political, death-defying. The white man is from a banal everyday moment, silly, cultural, life-affirming. But both individuals are brave in their own way, and both point to the multiple levels at which, when it comes to social, political, and cultural change, the exact relationship between the individual and the collective remains so ineffable and mysterious (while also so embodied and bodily!).

(I should say that I post this comparison at the risk of what for some may be a trivialization of the “Tank Man”; but I think it’s worth keeping the links open between moments of politics and of pleasure, of deadly-serious acts of courage and light-heartedly-comic acts of foolish inspiration. Though they are different, they are perhaps not entirely unrelated.)

The Tank Man (set to music and a message from the video maker).

(Note: be sure to watch the video through to its joyous end.)

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