Artist in Residence Donglai Meng schreef tijdens haar residency travel notes ‘The travels of Martha Polo. Tijdens haar expositie publiceren we dagelijks een van haar notities.
I was assigned to the Witte Rook base in Breda for a resident mission in December 2019. When I got the task, I was making some hairy-legs amulets in my apartment in Delft—an order from the Hairy-Legs Shrine in Fukuoka, Japan. In this cold and humid season, there was a typical drizzle outside the window; my fingertips, stained with water and clay, were becoming numb. I exhaled, looking through the white mist, and for a while I watched a pigeon standing on the railing of the balcony. This seemingly overgrown gray dove was staring at me with a crooked head. It was wearing an orange waistcoat, with two little furry human legs under its rotund body and a rolled-up letter tied to its left leg.
I opened the window and the pigeon, who jumped onto the window frame, said, “Good afternoon. PostHL is at your service. Please sign for your letter.”
I took the letter off its leg and said sincerely, “Thank you, and have a nice day.”
The pigeon stared at me, motionless and silent.
I thought for a moment, then turned around and took ten euros from my wallet and put it in its uniform pocket.
The pigeon grinned. “Cheers. A nice day to you too.” It bowed to me, then flew away.
I pursed my lips and felt ashamed of the hairy-legs messenger who had been spoiled by capitalism. At least in its home land, I thought, no one would seek the justice of a tip in such a way. I returned to the sofa and looked up at the envelope with the familiar hairy-leg logo.
Now, you may be a little confused by this, so what do I mean by ‘hairy-legs’? I will try my best to explain it to you in my poor language, but you must know that even I, as the senior agent of hairy-legs, am still somewhat hazy about its form.
It may be that ‘hairy-legs’ mean some very different things in different people’s minds, but as far as I know, in southern Japan, it is regarded as a religion, they build shrines for it, place the supreme hairy-legs god in the center of the room, and buy the special amulets to wear for good luck. But in Europe, hairy-legs is more of an information collecting organization. I was transferred from Italy to the Netherlands two and a half years ago as a contact person in the Netherlands to collect and organize information about the wild hairy-legs that live here.
Yes, hairy-legs are everywhere. Sometimes a hairy-leg without ‘Awakening’ is likely to never know that he/she/it is a hairy-leg for a lifetime. This is the so-called ‘wild hairy-legs’. As someone who knows all of this, I do not intentionally remind someone who is not aware of his other identity. This opportunity for knowing and not knowing is called ‘Fate’. Of course, I can honestly tell you that when you start to believe that you have become a hairy-leg, the world, to your eyes, will change dramatically. I will slowly describe this in the text that follows. Let us now get back to this letter.
I carefully opened the letter and read it word by word:
Breda’s hairy-legs base urgently needs a senior agent to carry out two months of information collection activities. In view of your previous outstanding performance, this task is especially-assigned to you. Please go to Witte Rook on the morning of December 2, 2019. agent Ms. E will be waiting for you on time. I hope you will continue to work for the common future of hairy-legs all over the world, not afraid of danger, and move forward!
I folded the letter up, sat in silence for a while, then got up and started packing.
“Work makes me happy,” I said to myself, “Breda is a beautiful city, and I love her red houses.”
This was the beginning of everything. I would record my activities and experiences in Breda in short transcripts and mark the things that worth seeing on the map —I wanted to give readers a sense of the real situation of Breda’s wild hairy-legs, and pick out interesting things to observe in the coming two months.