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Mao-Hope March

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  • Date: 
    1966
  • Edition/serial number: 
    Unlimited
  • Media description: 
    16 mm film, also transferred to video (DVD)
  • Duration: 
    4 min. 24 sec.
  • Colour: 
    Black and white
  • Sound: 
    Optical sound
  • Category: 
    Cinema, Performance
  • Entry date: 
    2009
  • Register number: 
    AD05483
  • Donation of Sharon Avery-Fahlström, 2009
  • On display in:
The film Mao-Hope March covers the street march organised in 1966 by Öyvind Falhström: seven young people demonstrated on New York’s Fifth Avenue carrying heavy placards showing six photos of American comic Bob Hope and one of Mao Tse Tung, which bear a disturbing similarity to each other. Radio reporter Bob Fass recorded people’s comments and the answers to the question posed by the performance about their own level of happiness, alluding to its pursuit as set down in the United States constitution. The relationship between the two iconic images contains a subtle revolutionary discourse, characteristic of Falhström’s work, revolving around the unrest that would eventually lead to the protests of 1968. The film is also an example of his personal take on performance, which had developed since his arrival in New York in 1961, influenced by the Living Theater, the work of John Cage and popular art. The performance can be seen simultaneously as an acidic commentary on the propaganda strategies of the most orthodox Pop Art, which was beginning to dominate the art system and which Fählstrom would continue to criticise as superficial throughout his work, and as an attempt to call people’s attention to the way the images of political leaders and showbiz celebrities were interchangeable, at a time when the political world was becoming mixed up with the entertainment industry.

Cristina Cámara Bello

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