minute 43

The Death of the Artist

15th of June 2012. The cameras are posited, the crowd has gathered, the spectacle is on. A man is about to battle against the forces nature. Alone, walking the tightrope. Above him: the sky. Below: the thunderous flood. A thin line is stretched between life and death, it seems. It seems to be the ancient all-enduring battle all over again, set in scene just for us. To show us what man is capable of doing. What we are capable of.

Nik Wallenda of the world famous “flying Wallendas” is about to cross the Niagara Falls on a tightrope, a balance act in 550 meters height. The spectacle is broadcasted by ABC. Tension is in the air as the camera switches from Wallenda to the crowd and back. Thousands of eyes follow the one man who slowly ascends the stairs to the metallic rope. Wallenda is all within himself, focused. Then, a pan shot to the Falls, a reminder of his potential fall.

The balancing act starts. Wallenda walks with a remarkable ease. While balancing along, he tells the reporters via mobile phone: “It’s a beautiful view.”

“A dream in the making,” he says. As he has told the media beforehand, he has dreamt of crossing the Falls ever since he first shed eyes on them as a child. After having fought for two years for the permission to cross the Niagara Falls, the realization of the dream is at hand. And it comes quick. Wallenda walks the rope in an unlikely speed: 45 minutes planned; the act took 25. It is as if Hermes had lent him his shoes – it is ABC’s safety line.
The Falls have been crossed.
A bow. Applause.
“Welcome to Canada. Passport, please”, a Canadian border guard welcomes Wallenda.
“Here you go”, the artist replies.
“What is the reason for your journey to Canada?”
“I want to inspire people around the world.”

A success story. Some more applause!
But what was at stake?

Stefanie Achhammer