“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
Planned to coincide with the 2012 London Olympics, MomenTech’s 2012 Olympi-Mobs is an audience participatory, site-specific public space project that uses flashmobs to explore the connections between political protest, meditation and sports.
During a press conference in Baghdad on December 14, 2008, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi shouted, "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog," and threw his shoes at president George W. Bush. Some sources reported that al-Zaidi was tortured during his initial detention. Al-Zaidi's shoeing inspired many similar incidents of political protest around the world. One of the 2012 "Olympi-Mob" flashmobs will be a pseudo-Olympic public shoe-throwing event inspired by this traditional Arab insult.
"The nose of a mob is its imagination," said Edgar Allen Poe. "By this, at any time, it can be quietly led."
With 2012 Olympi-Mobs a site-specific, audience participatory installation project, MomenTech seeks to tap into this imagination with two flashmob events that will be conducted on alternating days in London over a 16-day period during the entire duration of the 2012 London Olympics (July 27 through August 12, 2012).
On each day of the 2012 London Olympics, 2012 Olympi-Mobs will organize two different kinds of flashmobs: "Shoeing Olympi-Mob" and "Om Olympi-Mob."
"Shoeing, throwing shoes, showing the sole of one’s shoe or using shoes to insult are forms of protest primarily associated with the Arab world. Posters of George W. Bush’s face have long appeared through the Middle East with shoes attached to them, and some people have called former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Kundara, meaning “shoe.” Shoeing received attention after Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his shoes at then U.S. President George Bush in a December 14, 2008, press conference in Baghdad, Iraq. Since the al-Zaidi incident, copycat incidents in Europe, North America, India, Hong Kong, Iran, Turkey and Australia have been reported." [Wikipedia]
President George W. Bush ducking a thrown shoe, while Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki attempts to catch it. “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq,” shoethrower Muntadhar al-Zaidi shouted.
"Shoeing Olympi-Mob" takes the protest element of shoeing and transforms it into an Olympic-like sport, in which flashmobbers gather at a predetermined location(s) for a shoe-throwing event. much like the summer Olympic shotput event. The winner is determined by how far they can throw their own shoe.
Historically, the notion of shoes as a symbol of impurity is widespread throughout the Middle East and is not Arab or Islamic in particular. According to the Biblical Book of Exodus 3:5, "And he [God talking to Moses] said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy ground."
Sports and politics have had a long relationship throughout history. An ambassador from the French Prince (the Dauphin) famously gave a case of tennis balls to mock England's King Henry V, who quickly vowed to attack France. Many American presidents have entertained world leaders to a round of golf. Rugby played a large role in the history of South Africa. Turning a political protest into a pseudo-sport, "Shoeing Olympi-Mob" continues this long relationship.
"Sport has the power to change the world," wrote John Carlin in his 2008 book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, about the former South African president and the basis for the 2009 film Invictus. "It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people that little else has...It is more powerful in governments in breaking down racial barriers."
2) “Om Olympi-Mob”
"Om or Aum [Sanskrit, to sound out loudly] is a mystical or sacred syllable in the Indian religions, i.e. Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism...It is placed at the beginning of most Hindu texts as a sacred incantation to be intoned at the beginning and end of a reading of the Vedas or prior to any prayer or mantra...The syllable consists of three phonemes, a, u and m, which symbolize the beginning, duration, and dissolution of the universe and the associated gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, respectively." [Wikipedia]
The other Olympi-Mob is "Om Olympi-Mob." For this event, flashmobbers gather at a predetermined location(s), and at a particular time, freeze in place and chant the "om" mantra for 5 minutes. Once complete, they unfreeze and leave the area. This simple act aims to symbolize the connection between meditation and the physical focus and shared mission required by team activities, such as sports.
Describing the connection between physicality and spirituality, the Indian spiritual teacher and philosopher Sri Chinmoy said, "The body is like a temple and the soul or inner reality is like the shrine inside the body-temple. If the temple does not have a shrine, then we cannot appreciate the temple. Again, if we do not keep the temple in good condition, then how can we take proper care of the shrine?"
Connecting the gods of Hindu (through the mantra "om"), the gods of ancient Greece (through the Olympics) and the Hebrew god of the Bible (through the history of shoe-throwing as connected to the Book of Exodus) through sports and game theory, 2012 Olympi-Mobs continues MomenTech's ongoing in-depth exploration of transnational progressivism.
OM/Aum, a symbol of Hindu faith, is one of the most sacred symbols in Hinduism. The "om" symbol above originates as a cursive writing of au + candrabindu in the Devanagari script.
For 2012 Olympi-Mobs, MomenTech has taken the Devanagari script of "OM," rotated it 90 degrees counterclockwise and morphed the characters into the letters "O” and "M” from the Roman alphabet, representing both the “om” sound of the mantra and the acronym “O.M.,” short for "Olympi-Mobs."
There is no technical equipment required. 2012 Olympi-Mobs will be managed through social media (Facebook, Twitter, blog). Marketing, logistical and production support in London is necessary to publicize, manage and record the flashmobs.
MomenTech's other sport- and game-related projects include Ped Tanco (a site-specific installation featuring a pétanque terrain and associated programming, such as pétanque workshops and competitions), Scotch-Hoppers for Sol LeWitt (a conceptual site-specific hopscotch installation using a LeWitt approach that was exhibited as part of the exhibition An Exchange with Sol Lewitt, a two-part exhibition curated by Regine Basha at Cabinet Magazine in January 2011) and Invocation and Offering to Unkulunkulu (an audio work utilizing live recordings of the vuvuzela, the ubiquitous horn instrument of the 2010 World Cup.)
By tapping into the power of crowds and illustrating the entertaining, educational and inspirational possibilities of flashmob strategic production, 2012 Olympi-Mobs highlights the potential of transnational progressivism.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.