Face Paint Nationalism and Hybridity
Most of my posts on the Olympics have reflected on the national sentiments of the event. Today at Chungking Mansions we had a discussion about the value of the Olympics. Our multicultural group were mostly positive about the place and function of the Olympic Games. One person commented that it was better to have nations compete under their national flag in sport than in war. Despite some of the ugly issues of Nationalism that the Olympics brings out, it also brings a lot of camaraderie and human joy.
One thing that does rest uneasy with me is the Union Jack painted on people’s faces. Perhaps this is because my knee jerk association is with the Far Right, and football hooliganism. Earlier this morning I watched an Al Jazeera news reported interview people lazing in the Olympic Park in London watching events. They focussed in on one English Rose who had her face adorned with a Union Jack. She presented a few sound-bites about the success of the London Olympics and national pride. I could not help thinking about the cover of Annop Nayak’s book which has a South Asian girl adorned with the Union Jack. This picture on the front of Nayak’s book represents, to me at least, the palatable inclusive side of nationalism which the Olympics, in its best moments, promotes.
This same morning I picked up the FT Weekend and saw the colorful cover above. It shows a collection of Olympic fans with their faces painted, or wearing their national flags, or colours. It ends up being a neat little exercise in nationalism and ethnic essentialism.
An exercise in painting that is a little more relfeive and hybrid is the painting of Post Office Boxes Gold to celebrate British Olympic Medals.
This one in Islingtion was painted to celebrate the Somalian born British runner Mo Farah and his Gold Medal win.
Paint, Nation, and the Olympics