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The travels of Marta Polo: Hairy-legs and resident mission

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:

Dear agent,

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.


Stationslaan 111, Breda, Nederland

Donglai Meng
Midday Dreaming

OPENING January 25th 2020
2:00 PM - 12:00 AM during Cultuurnacht

Visit the exhibition:
January 25th - February 2nd 2020
Thu - Sun 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The exhibition shows the results of the working period of Donglai Meng that takes place from 2th December 2019 till 25th Januari 2020.

AIR Donglai Meng
Donglai Meng (Marta) works at Artist in Residence at Witte Rook.  Donglai was born in Dalian, China and currently lives and works...