THE PINK DETACHMENT, 2015-2016
The Pink Detachment is a reinterpretation of The Red Detachment of Women (1970), a Model Opera ballet from China’s Cultural Revolution. In the original, a peasant girl joins an all-female military detachment, takes revenge on her despotic landlord, and produces Revolution. This ballet and its many variations was a ubiquitous propaganda piece in its day.
Can such a fraught archival document be re-motivated, beyond kitsch?
This piece proposes that re-motivation is possible, but only through major revision. First, the peasant girl is replaced with an accident-prone, inefficient meat worker. Second, the wise martial leader is replaced with a ballerina-manager that provides the solutions to the worker’s problems. She provides new tools – for meat and bone grinding – while resolving the inequities of wealth and resource distribution through the factory-produced hot dog. Military overthrow (Red) has been replaced by manufactured equivalence (Pink).
Within this revised framework, portions of the original music and choreography have been preserved. It has been re-engineered to fabricate continuity between the brutal fantasy of the past and the resource problems of the present. Parallel positions emerge from the color equation, Red + White = Pink. The first position is the old term “pinko” – a Communist (Red) who has assimilated Capitalist bourgeois models (White), to create a “watered-down” compromise (Pink). The second position is a speculative solution to China’s crises in meat supply, by valorizing the integration of “undesirable” pig parts with the “desirable” portions in the hot dog. And the third position proposes the pink of femininity not as a “natural” fleshy softness, but rather as a synthetic, potentially violent, hybridity.
Direction, Props, and Sound
Director of Photography
Isabelle Zufferey Boulton
VOICEOVER TEXTS (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE)
Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem, 2014.
David John Farmer, “In the Pink!” Administrative Theory and Praxis, Vol. 25, No. 3 (September 2003).
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service, Code of Federal Regulations: Title 9, Volume 2, Part 319 – Definitions and Standards of Identity of Composition, 2012.
Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine, Volume II: The Pentagon of Power, 1970.
Isabelle Zufferey Boulton Imagines A World Full of Pink: edited narrative improvisation, 2015