The Feminist

Wen Fang 文芳 and Art of Change 21, Maskbook 口罩行动. 2015- present.

There is something very confusing about a naked Tinker Bell doll with legs spread open. But that is one of the main features of “The Feminist,” a mask submitted to Wen Fang’s online collaborative project Maskbook. This particular mask is covered with a sheet of foil cut in an upside-down triangular shape like a leaf. It is the ground for other objects besides the fairy: a cigarette, the word sex spelled in wooden Scrabble tiles, and a big letter F at the center. The objects and the mask are crudely bound together with transparent plastic tape.

“What has happened to Tinker Bell?,” you wonder. Tinker Bell took a step outside Neverland and grew up. She now smokes and has sex. And in this world, sex is S1EX8—not a natural, passionate act of losing control, but nature obsessively controlled by science, as if translated into a chemical formula. Tinker Bell learned that the chemical formula produces a chemical weapon used in the war of the sexes. If Tinker Bell identifies as female, she is on the losing side of the war. 

She discovered that what makes us unique when we are children is slowly diluted in this world. That dilution had everything to do with the pollution around her. She saw a sea of faces, all wearing masks amidst a thick fog of pollution and realized the masks and the haze effaced the distinctive traits of all those faces. In this world, the trees—of various shapes and sizes, each with unique markings and images on their barks—are rendered uniform and precise, like polished square Scrabble tiles. Small clones of one another. There, she saw the same loss of distinctiveness. When Tinker Bell found out that cutting down trees to produce things like Scrabble pieces was connected to the pollution fog, it made perfect sense: losing one’s identity and contaminating one’s lungs are one and the same. It is only natural that she would start smoking.

The hairstyle of the woman wearing the mask—so like that of Tinker Bell—contributes to the effacement of her identity. Which is to say that she, too, is Tinker Bell, the feminist. Her kind of feminism is an intersectional one that sees the many social, environmental, philosophical problems faced by this world as deeply connected.

Maybe you do not see the connections. Maybe, when you look at this mask, you are only confused. But is that not how Tinker Bell must have felt when she first stepped outside of Neverland?

Mariana Espindola

Artist video