a-lla-la-lei 你好 by Jay Brown

‘a-lla-la-lei’ is ‘hello’ in the Naxi language.

Nest of swallows in Lijiang Studio. This year, the swallows returned on the eve of the 24th February. Since then they have mended their old nest and decided to stay in spite of Rourou, the cat, who moved in after they had left last year.

Nest of swallows in Lijiang Studio. This year, the swallows returned on the eve of the 24th February. Since then they have mended their old nest and decided to stay in spite of Rourou, the cat, who moved in after they had left last year.

A-lla-la-lei is an on-going gathering hosted by Lijiang Studio in Jixiang Village, Lashihai, Yunnan, China. We explore points of convergence between art and agriculture. Within the larger setting of Lijiang Studio, A-lla-la-lei straddles between minimum intervention and the inevitability of intervening through being there. We respond to the surroundings by relating to the location – wind, water, sunshine, rain as well as the beans https://youtu.be/G40s7V48SC0, peaches, pears, apples, cherries and papayas; to local traditions like the Qilin Dance [www.lijiangstudio.org/qilin-dance], and local events like weddings, funerals and arrivals of babies, the release of water from the reservoir, the introduction of waste containers, of solar street lights, of tarmac – as if it were our curator.

We work within a time frame given by the solar calendar (see Solar Terms). Stepping horizontally outside this given time frame, we stretch the solar terms to serve as prompts. On this platform, you can find our current interactions with the location. We work with land/agricultural calendars from different communities in order to learn about divergent ways of seeing. Simultaneously, we are exploring both ancient and modern technologies in agriculture. We are particularly interested in the role of technology as extensions of our bodies, the subsequent re-adjustment amongst our senses and their effect on our human modes of making connections.

In this regard the Jixiang Village community serves as a learning platform, as the choices made by villagers are not dominated by economic necessity. And in it’s curatorial role the location has more recently confronted us with the question “Can the countryside incubate changes for the future`?” (based on discussions between Xinlin Song and Petra Johnson).

Whatever it is we can do, it will only do justice to the abundance of growth and emergence around us, if we pool our skills. 

see A Book Of Findings Oct 2018 available on Lijiang Studio


And we walk. He Jixing walks through the village, his observations can be followed on the Jixing Village Film Production site. Petra Johnson has been walking five pre-determined circular routes since May last year. The fifth and largest circle reaches toward the edge of the valley, whilst the shortest walk circles the immediate environs of the studio. This approach is inspired by Erik Mueggler’s interpretations of wayfaring and networks of paths and roads in ‘The Age of Wild Ghosts’ (see Chapter 5, Digested Words; p.132-138), and particularly the idea of a song that maps a spiraling route from way distant toward the place of home, gathering all the good things on route. Like a labyrinthine walk, the same entry and exit – the studio – anchors each circular route. Since the beginning of this year, the routes have been re-walked each solar terms; thus the walks serve as spatial and temporal nodal points around which echoes, resonances, the remembered, the experienced and the talked about gather and coalesce.Each solar term, the five routes are redrawn

We trust in noting whilst moving rhythmically, as a means to nurture empathy towards the surroundings, as a journey toward auscultation. Walking in company might be dominated by a sense of surveying as attention takes on the role of sharing, rather than learning like a child from changes in the landscape. Walking in company makes one aware of the tremendous range of human subjectivities and ways of describing or even naming atmospheric attunement. By contrast, recollections of walking alone, as for example sharing some form of synchronicity with the swaying willow branches at this time of the year, leave different imprints in the memory. These memories are harder to place in calendar time. 

We gather and we are hosted, thanks to the creativity of our host, the family of He Hengguang (Er Ge), He Xuemei, He Shiyuan, He Shufen, He Jixing and He Jiyu, who is currently studying at university in Guangzhou. Petra’s walk with Er Ge around the Lashihai Lake back in 2017, weaved signposts for her recent walks with Sipei as well as opened intervening spaces for seeing things differently. Around a glass of baijiu, Er Ge outlines his thoughts about what works for and in this place and what does not. Pursuing his own projects, Jixing has questions about different meanings about what is an ‘action’ brought by visitors, whilst helping as much as he can to facilitate everyone’s work. See www.lijiangstudio.com/mappingtheaffectivelandscape.

The invitation is open. Something is set up, for example, the building of a Qimometer: this process introduced the topic of fragile architecture as well as the role of Solar Terms. More recently, weekly screen showings at the site of the no longer existing village temple provide a platform for getting to know villagers across generations and led to the founding of Jixiang Village Productions. Other projects in the making are the tracing of water from the reservoir through a multitude of ditches (March/April 2020) to a central point in the village (see Waiting for Water), and the creation of a temporary, mnemonic installation with locals. If the visitor wants to, he/she can join, if you prefer to pursue your own work, we just ask you to share your progress and questions once in a while.

Finally, to get an inkling of auscultation one has to cultivate receptivity. According to Mr. Kimura (木村秋则/“Be a Fool at least once in your Life” a book on how to tend Apple trees) it might take everyone at least eight years to do so.

(Version: 27 March 2019, by Lu Sipei, three days after leaving Lijiang, updated 17th April by Petra Johnson and He Jixing)


Solar Terms 节气 by Jay Brown


The choice of living in a time frame determined by the solar calendar is like living in a poem with dense presences, seemingly obscure references and a growing sensibility toward variations of clarity.

The oldest known solar calendar is in Peru. The regularly-spaced thirteen towers of Chankillo were constructed on the ridge of a low hill running near north to south. The towers create a "toothed" horizon with narrow gaps at regular intervals. Inhabitants of Chankillo would have been able to determine dates as well as the optimal time for planting crops by observing the sun emerging at sunrise through one of these gaps.

In Naxi Culture, the Dongba made agricultural calendars on paper. The one in the attached illustration has been translated into a stone relief set in the floor of a museum in Mujiaqiao Village near the airport.


Mujiaqiao Village

During a recent 'Three Village Gathering', we learned from Yang Qing that the Naxi also have an agricultural calendar in the format of a song. Whilst there is no record of the melody in which it is sung, the words have been kept. Together with our friends from Ciman Village, we will, in the first instance, concentrate our research on this song. 

In the meantime we observe our surroundings, here in Jixiang Village (Petra and Jixing and any visitors who like to join) on the South side of Lashihai and in Zhengsheng Village, Wang Mei and Zhuming observe life on the North side of the lake. Here you can find a podcast on their reflections: 17/04/2019 Wang Mei's reflection on working with the solar terms

Below are observations and video shorts of the solar terms as and how we encounter them with contributions from visitors.

Grain Rain

Grain Rain is the sixth seasonal marker on the lunar calendar and the last one in spring. The following entries were contributed by Cui Yue, a writer in residence during this period of time.


Lashihai in the Day


Lashihai at Night

April 20th

On the night of Grain Rain, we took a night walk to Lashihai wetland. It was a full-moon night, cold and bright, so we could see far ahead of us without any streetlamp. Water had receded into the central lake because of seasonal dam control so we could venture out further this time. The night was tranquil but not at all silent - ducks were quacking, water was purling, fish were splashing about and doing their business. Above us was one bright moon, the radiant Mars, and countless twinkling stars. Behind us was the straight road leading back home. To our left was the soft quivers of bamboo leaves. To our far right was the unbroken illumination of the new highway. In front of us across the water was the sparse orange lights from family windows in another village. Behind that was the silent black hills. Guarded by the hills and the water and marked by distant lights, Jixiang village lay snug and safe at night.


Mu Pengxian playing on a swing


Mu Pengxian and I

April 21st

Sunday is movie-making day at the Studio. In the morning, I was woken up by the sound of children laughing and running in the courtyard. After watching the animation to be adapted in the afternoon, Mu Pengxian, our heroine in Winnie-the-Pooh and the girl who made popsicle juice for us in the screening the night before, invited me for a walk to Lashihai. The place looked different in the day. Everything was coming to life. I had braids that day and apparently this was a hairstyle that was good for innovation. Mu was constantly picking flowers from trees or the grass to add to my braids. Lashihai is also a popular place for wedding photo shooting and we found a discarded bunch of flowers with which Mu played “throw-and-catch” happily all the way. After the little walk, Mu coaxed and pleaded and practically dragged me to eat at her family. Mu’s family is not among the comfortable ones in the village. In the house, flies were buzzing over the fish drying underneath the sun when I went to visit. Mu used her grandma’s hat as a basket and led me to the back garden. She snapped a few garden onions from the soil, picked up two eggs, and pushed a fresh broad bean into my mouth. The ten-year-old girl cooked us egg-fried rice with green onions, broad beans, and pickles. It was a meal of great simplicity and nice flavour which touched my heart. I believe we all have something to learn from the girl’s great enjoyment over simple things in life and her willingness to share even though she did not have much.

Pure Brightness

A compilation of events during the time of Pure Brightness (5th - 19th April)

The season of 'Pure Brightness' begun with the Qingmin Festival on April the 5th. Jixing writes about the first day: 昨天是清明节,和往年一样,大家一起上山扫墓,野炊。今年对野外用火的管理更加的严格了,两架直升机一直在墓地上空盘旋,森林火警强行扑灭了许多家庭做饭的火,菜只煮熟了一半,唯有不欢而散,而我们幸免,下山后听人们议论才觉得更加幸运. 'As in previous years, everyone went up the mountain to sweep the graves and picnic. This year, the forest fire management is very strict. Two helicopters have been hovering over the cemetery. Forest fire fighters forcibly extinguished many families’ cooking fires. Their dishes were only half-cooked. The families were upset. Somehow we were spared, we finished our picnic, packed up and left, blissfully unaware of the commotion. All we saw were two buses parked nearby with sad looking young men in much too large uniforms. After listening to people's talk later that afternoon, I feel very fortunate. '

The following observations are by Xinlin Song, who came to stay at Lijiang Studio during the Time of Pure Brightness in mid April:

Lijiang Diary  4.14.2019  Sunny 

Beet root, indigo, pumpkin and mint, you can perhaps easily tell the difference looking at the fully grown plant, but can you tell the difference when they come as seed?  What happened in the time it took for a pumpkin seed to turn into the steamed pumpkin you order in a restaurant? Was it planted in a greenhouse miles away? Was there human or robot that had watered the plant? Was the harvest delivered to a nearby wholesale market before changing several hands before arriving into your kitchen?  These questions are rarely asked or even being thought of if you are having a busy urban life.  

After all, well, do you even buy vegetables from a physical market today?

Lijiang Studio

One table in the studio is used as a small seed bank.


The seeds are from all over the world brought by previous visitors and from grandma’s last year harvest. I marvel at these tiny dots in my palm that one sneeze would blow away; that these tiny dots should one day become fully shaped plants with nutrients that sustain life. If given the right condition of soil, sunlight and water, a tiny dotted seed can transform the energy of all these natural elements with its own unique creation.  

This afternoon, Cuiyue and I were about to plant these seeds. We carried a hoe and a bucket trying to break our first piece of ground by a small water pond behind the house. As we were discussing where to start the work, some children from the village came. One girl immediately got interested in the seeds, she carefully opened each paper package and quickly shouted the name of the seed contained. At this point the other girl came up to her and the two girls started to discuss a plan what-should-grow-where in this as yet invisible garden. The hoe, Cuiyue had found just a while ago quickly changed hands. Without us quite grasping the speed of events, the two girls had already started plotting the earth. 


I was struck how natural and instinctive the planting knowledge of these two 10-year-old girls came into play. Whilst working the soil, there were little disputes on techniques of plotting. “Who taught you to plant like this? Have you ever done it?” One of the girls said.  “I do this everyday at home, this is how my mom does it!” Replied the other.  “Uhhh, anyone needs anything?” I asked. I had realised that at this moment and with their expertise, the only thing I could offer was probably my physical labour.


With more than half of the population in China today living in the cities, food has become one of the strongest links that connect the urban and the rural. China is now producing around 70% of the world’s vegetables, while its population is only 18%.  The question of how does the food come to our table is as mysterious as the question where do the leftovers end up afterwards.  

Being in the countryside brings one closer to the two ends of food production and reduction. It bring us face to face with the sensitivity of planting and the circularity of disposing. Both ends meet on a small scale in a rural household and are nicely intertwined with knowledge that has been passed on through generations. 

As long as this form of knowledge survives and is valued, we will be ok. 

(add podcast spoken by WangMei)

Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox fell on the 21 March 2019. In that week, Zhu Ming and Wang Mei shared with us (Jixing, Petra, Sipei) their recordings of the previous solar term, the time of  'Insects Waking' in form of daily notes and sketches of plants. We all had noted that our experiences of observing our environs had taken on a different quality now that they were prompted by an awareness of solar terms. Articles (in Chinese) about observations made during previous solar terms in 2019 can be seen  here and here

A couple of years ago, Zhu Ming and Wang Mei moved to the North of Lashihai to Zhengsheng Village from another village further up the mountains. They are exploring different approaches to farming in their courtyard. Their preference for observing rather than mastering some quick concrete knowledge about plants recalls the essence of slow art. A pear blossom, once recorded on a daily basis, reveals a continuity of changes in colours, smells and shapes. As co-initiators of the Stalking Tao project, they will contribute observations from their locality for each solar term. The approach helps them to notice subtle changes that had gone unnoticed during the previous years of their stay. They plan to maintain this process of recordings for at least three years. Zhuming also shares these reflections with neighbours and in the process learns about local uses and knowledge of solar terms.


We went up to the mountain to see the dragon's claw willows and two deserted farms. The first one was locked with padlocks and though we found a key, we could not make it fit. The gate to the second one was wide open. After a short exploration, we left Jixing taking photographs inside and waited in front of the gate. We waited and waited. After what seemed like 20 minutes, we searched the courtyard, but couldn't see anyone. Finally we called him by phone and he told us that he was already home. He had left through another exit. He had shouted our names before walking back. There was no reply. None of us had heard his calls. Had his voice been absorbed by the dense vegetation?

When we left, Zhu Ming and Wang Mei gave us some dragon's claw willow branches and (name of the other plants) as gifts.

During my stay (17 March - 24 March 2019: the closing of the 'Time of Insects Waking' and the beginning of 'Spring Equinox'), Petra and I took two walks along the circular routes. Petra took notes of what had changed from the last time of her walks. Water levels have gone down. It is no longer possible to cross a ditch, because the boat that acted as a bridge, has been moved. Seeing pruned and unpruned trees in front of me, listening to Grandma talking about the good taste of locally grown fruits and grains in the old days, and walking around the dam which has changed the lives of many, I was wondering what stories the land under my feet would like to tell. If, as Jixing describes it, the earth is a body and we are making the instrument that resonates like a sound box of a guitar, what is the pitch of the sound the earth is making right now? How does the agitation of air incurred by our walking interact with that of the villagers working the land, the vibrant blossoms on the papaya tree, the cows walking back home after a days grazing in the wild flower fields, and the water rippling in the ditch?

【comparison with previous somatic markers】


Somatic markers by Petra Johnson, from Dec 2018 to early Jan 2019, during the Time of Greater Snow, Winter Solstice and Time of Lesser Cold

Another walk we took this week was from Jixiang Village to Ciman Village in order to attend the annual Pear Flower Festival there. We thought it would be good to contribute to the Festival by counting the number of pear trees along the road between the two villages. Sadly there were only 39 trees along the 5.7km route. Most of them were lining the road you turn onto when coming out of the studio. When we shared our findings at the festival we were told 39 is an auspicious number.

Ciman Village is famous for its pears. You can find some of the oldest pear trees there. It once supplied one of the four top brands of pears in this country and they were sent to the central government in the 1950s and 1960s. The Pear Flower Festival is a celebration of the pear, but also is a time to pay tribute to the elderly. Since 1992 this event has been organised by the Association of the Elderly. This year, the Ciman Pear Cooperativeand Media Centre for Community joined the organising committee, to show the achievements of and call for more participation in pear tree planting, as well as to exhibit photographs of villagers made by artists and old photographs of pear planting and harvesting. A photo competition was also launched at this festival to invite villagers to use photography to share their observations in life.

Back in Jixiang Village, there was also a special event for the elderly - a three-day feast at the beginning of Spring Equinox. Grandma told me that when she was young, she helped cooking for this event. Now she could just enjoy the meals. The venue for the meals was once used as a village temple and a school. Jixing attended this school for two years. After an early dinner, he showed his film The Village Temple to the elderlies. The film is part of his long-term project of tracing the history of the village with his fellow villagers. After graduating from university last year, Jixing went back to the village and has been conducting interviews with villagers and filming events as well as everyday life in the village. He also made two short films that straddle between dream worlds and realities and convey contemporary struggles and fortunes. The villager he had talked with in the film was present, others who expressed their wish to be present in a future film and many who had known the erhu player, who had passed away just recently and to whom the film was dedicated. In his very own evocative language, Jixing alluded in this film to the journey of fluids in the dying body. 


Jixing also took a group photograph for those attending the banquet. Similar to the situation of the screening of his film, some villagers were very enthusiastic about it, some were indifferent, which left Jixing much to think about the next step of his work. How would his work evolve in time and in dealing with the complexities embedded in history? We agreed that actions need to be taken now, and at least we know, through this event, that there are many other active voices and there is much silence we can listen to.

Through Jixing, I got to talk to the main protagonist in the film ,[what's his name Jixing?]. He read my palm and gave me best wishes. When he read Jixing's palm, Jixing asked, 'Can you see when is the next time we make a film together'? 

Many things take on new forms on this Spring Equinox.

A short compilation of events during the time Spring Equinox (21st March - 4th April 2019)

Insects Waking

A short compilation of events during the time of Insects Waking (6th Mar - 20th Mar 2019)

Rain Water

A short compilation of events during the time of Rain Water (19th Feb - 5th March 2019)

Beginning of Spring

A short compilation of events during the time of the Spring Festival (4th Feb - 18th Feb 2019)

Time of Greater Cold

A short compilation of events during the time of Greater Cold (20th Jan - 3rd Feb 2019)

Time of Lesser Cold

A short text: during-the-time-of-lesser-cold-Download

A short compilation of events during the time of Lesser Cold (5th Jan - 19th Jan 2019)

Waiting for Water by Jay Brown


Last Thursday, the village chief issued a notice in the village WeChat group that No. 30 Jizi Reservoir would open the floodgate in two days time. On Saturday, March 30, 2019, water run down the ditch leading to the lake at 4.30pm.

Book of Findings by Frog Wing

The October residency of the artist-led residency program ’Mapping the Affective Landscape’ (2018) ended with a collaborative work:

A book on how we, urbanized humans that we are/have become, negotiate and reflect on the cognitive load that comes from trying to keep track of activities in Jixiang Village.

Here where our bodies and minds are dealing with the uncanny effect of entering surroundings from which they evolved but have become detached, where apples and peaches are just an arm’s reach away, where doors are not locked and generosity is at large, we encounter none of the physical boundaries to which we have become habituated in urban settings. Immersed in cognitive overload, understandings of sharing and privacy begin to re-orientate.

We, Tika, Shuyin, Jixing, Witold, Qingwa, Adrian and myself, who participated in the October session realised quickly, that whatever it is we can do, it will only do justice to the abundance of growth and emergence around us, if we pool our skills. By the close of the residency we had compiled a ’Book of Findings’. By giving the location four weeks of concentrated attention, we ’found’ approaches, that tentatively explore the space between surveying and auscultation. Each contribution addresses a question raised by Erik Mueggler in The Paper Road, here somewhat condensed:

In what ways might the earth, as it emerges as a social being, serve as a resource for experiences that circumvent established ways of thinking and living the divides we make between the social and the natural? (see p.48)

"Road to Heaven #3" Show at Lijiang Library // 东巴神路图 #3 在丽江图书馆 by Jay Brown


ROAD TO HEAVEN #3 // 东巴神路图 #3

[alternative subtitle: A Practice-Based Approach to Theology]

an exhibition of work by Frog (Qingwa)*


Co-produced by Dr. Petra Johnson and HeJixing


from October 12-28th, 2018


*also featuring: video (work-in-progress) “A Road Closer to the Gods” by An Xiao Mina (USA), with translated transcripts by Lisa Li (CN); “Crane Dance” video excerpt from Jixiang Village’s Qilin Dance (filmed and edited by Petra Johnson); audio piece “An Interview” featuring Professor FanDahan (CN) and Dr. Petra Johnson (UK), transcript editing by WuShuyin and HeJixing (CN); collaborative pieces with Dongba HeXiudong, Dongba Yanjianhua, Dongba HeSiqiang (CN); “Dog Head” fabricated as a prop for the film “Lashihai’s Ophelia” by Greta Mendez (Trinidad/ UK); live appearance and interview with Dongba HeXiushan a.k.a. Sunny (CN)



The Dongba Road to Heaven funeral scroll is a long painting used at certain Naxi Dongba funerals. 

During the funeral ritual, a Dongba priest guides the soul of the deceased through the levels of Hell, and towards Earth and Heaven. 

“The Road to Heaven #3” Exhibition presents an unfinished Dongba Road to Heaven scroll painting. 

I first began studying Dongba culture as an art student in 2011, seven years ago. 

Since then, I have completed two Road to Heaven scrolls, seven Thangka-Style Dongba paintings, at least a dozen books of notes and observational drawings, and studies of ritual cards and wooden board paintings, under the guidance of multiple Lijiang Dongba teachers. 

I painted my first Road to Heaven scroll in 2014 as an assignment for a Dongba teacher- it has now been returned to him and it lives in Tacheng village, ready for use in the next ritual. 

I painted my second scroll in 2015-2017, as a study for myself. In 2016, that scroll was presented in an exhibition in Maryland, USA, and was also featured as part of a project in Mongolia, funded with a Visual Arts grant by the Asian Cultural Council. In 2018, the same scroll painting, when finished, was shown in exhibitions in Berlin, Germany and in New York City. 

This new scroll, which is currently in-progress, is my third edition. 

To encourage the interactive facets of cultural production, I encourage intellectual exchange as I invite visitors of all ages to evaluate the work and give feedback while it is being created.  

There will be a presentation/ performance lecture during the opening event, as well as a box to collect feedback throughout the duration of the show. 

During the closing event we can discuss the issues which have been brought to attention by the general public.

This gives the local community a moment to reflect on traditional Naxi Dongba culture, while also assessing how it is recreated and represented in international contemporary conversations today. 
















October 13th, Saturday

3-5pm @ the Library Exhibition Room

3:00: Extract from the Qilin Dance (Crane and Deer)- featuring guest performers HeJixing and MuXian

3:30: Speeches from Library Staff, Officials, Curators, and Lijiang Studio

4:00: Performance Lecture (“Post-Mortem Guidance Counseling: A Brief Intro”) by Frog

5:00: Library closes; dinner at restaurant


October 27th, Saturday

3:00-5:00: Readings of collected feedback; Q & A


Special thanks to Hannah Zhang, Jay Brown, and Lijiang Studio’s October residents: WuShuyin, Kartika Mediana, Witold, and Adrian (Trillion Rexford)

#slowtrain zines by D. F. Wing by Jay Brown

This autumn Frog (D.F. Wing) finished making analog versions of the #slowtrainresidency project with China Residencies; these have been compiled as a zine titled #Slowtrain: from Mongolia to Yunnan. We have a color copy and some black-and-white copies at our library in the studio, for anyone who might be interested.

#Slowtrain is the second zine produced by SunDogs Studio, the experimental mobile studio and micro press hosted by Frog as she works while traveling.

From Frog’s website (www.theparhelia.com):
”The #Slowtrain sketchbook, IG posts, and #slowtrain zines were created as part of my virtual residency project with @china_residencies. In October 2017, I set out, once again, to learn about the cultural and historical connections between the Mongolian nation and the Naxi ethnic peoples. Riding old trains from the border of Mongolia (Zamiin-Uud township) to the heart of the Naxi in Lijiang, Yunnan, I took notes and made drawings while roughly following the path that Kublai Khan’s troops would have taken in the 13th century, on their quest to conquer the known world. “

(photos: from @china_residencies)

Roots by Frog Wing

Peter Hagan, September 2018

The following is a short writing on roots in Lashihai. I was amazed by how close the family was to their farm and their home since it was something I had never experienced before. I called that connectedness “roots.” Problems arise quickly when talking about being “rooted” to a place. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Chinese men and women who left their hometowns for urban areas where they could make a more comfortable living. That is the result of a capitalist economy that has developed quicker than a community’s ability to cope. By doing so, they left a particular life that they are deeply connected to but that is completely understandable why they left. Maybe they did suffer a loss of identity but they gained modern offerings of freedom and comfort and are able to create and fulfill new personal ambitions. Further, are problems of scale: we can identify a house, a farm, a neighborhood, a city, or a nation-state as the home of our roots and find no conflict in feeling connections to multiple places at once. The problem, then, is a problem of definition. What are roots? How do we lay them? How do they affect us, the space and people around us, or the way we experience the world? Are roots really that important for survival? Are they becoming a nostalgia for a bygone era of humanity? The questions are important and so vast that my initial reaction to writing something about them was to compare roots to blackholes. That is why I struggle so much to write about the subject. There are no quick and easy answers for these questions.

On the He family farm there are three ancient pine trees, two within the family

compounds and one outside. Over generations, the trees have been bent into strange and

extraordinary but enchanting twists and bends, branching at odd and dramatic angles designed

and directed by human hands. In order to bring the trees to the shapes they are now, the family

lashed the trees with ropes and twisted metal wires around the trunks, tightening the restraints

until the shape is set. Now the trees are old, older than anyone in the family. They stand as

permanent effigies of the family that bound them.

Scientists say that, besides the taproot, roots grow opportunistically when the weather is

warm and the space is free. These old trees in the courtyards have root systems spreading deep

and wide; veins beneath a skin of concrete. Over the generations the trees grew bound with wire,

taking the shape defined by humans, leaving a permanent definition on the trees for their

lifetimes. But while their trunks are twisted and mangled, their roots are vast, untouched, and

unrestrained by the facsimile of the cement casing. The roots punctured those long ago.


Sitting at the table after lunch, Frog pointed out that the kitchen is older than the United


“Well, not all of it, but the beams and the frame are.” We sat silent in that distinguished

room. After a moment she said, “I don’t know if you noticed, but Grandpa walks the same paths

every day and sits in the same place every day. He must have some power in repeating that path

all the time. He knows the farm so well. Sometimes I see him sleeping in between the rows of


The Dongba conduct special ceremonies when a new home is built because it places a

human space permanently into the world, upsetting the balance between human and nature.

Generations later perhaps nature has accepted the settlement and then what exists is a testament

to the intimacy of their relationship: fertile fields and a family that remains. I am no Dongba. I

cannot say how effective the ceremonies are but I can see the depth of the bond. There, that farm

draws life from you like few places I have ever visited. It gives back food and warmth and for

me, a subtle awareness that you have stepped into a new stream of time, time that is still

insatiable but without supremacy in life. A time we can ignore and let run without chasing it

down the stream or feeling like we miss something as it drifts by. Our attention isn’t in a fleeting

moment, caught in regret; it is in the space around us, a space that has been colonized by the

roots of the family.

Roots run deep there. Deeper than any place I have ever visited or lived in or

experienced. Roots seemed to be present everywhere I went in Yunnan. That day Frog and I

talked about Grandpa I imagined him walking in invisible ruts carved into spacetime. The

alluvial farm transformed into an infinite plane of soft clay where Grandpa walked the same

paths for his lifetime, pressing and repressing footprints into the land. I imagined Grandpa

walking the same paths that his parents walked and the same paths his great grandchildren would walk. Eventually, I couldn’t separate him from the land. After so many generations how could farm and farmer be anything but one in the same? Even with smoking and drinking, Grandma said, “Grandpa has only been very sick once. He has only gone to the hospital once.” What happened to the farm when Grandpa was staying in the hospital?

Grandpa and Grandma must be able to see a remarkable amount of detail in the land

around them; the minutiae of the farm would be as familiar as fingernails. The alluvial farm

would be as clear in their memory as it is in reality; they live within both worlds simultaneously.

We all do. But Grandma and Grandpa probably do not suffer from the same fading memory that

we do since their memories are on and of the farm. Those are the roots that I’m writing about.

Roots are memory and are an entanglement of living. These roots span time by digging into

space. Grandpa and Grandma are as rooted to the land as the old pines in the courtyard. Their

walks are the blood in the veins. They are eternal caretakers of the land, which is them and their

family. Their relationships (and each one like it) are truly dense, thick and heavy. But mostly,

they are alive and alive in a way that you can point to and touch it and say, this is a life. This is

here and now and has been and I hope always will be.


On the He family farm there is an ancient pine tree growing in the middle of their

courtyard. Since a young age it has been coerced into twists and bends and branchings by metal

wires. Now, the tree is so old someone built a metal scaffold to hold its branches up. I worry that

a storm could tear it down in a night; a tree hundreds of years old gone in an evening.

I also wonder if the tree really is that old or if the growing process hides its true age. Even if it is

a young tree it is as much an artificial structure as the compound surrounding it, all planned and

planted. I asked a gardener how difficult it is to move a fully grown tree. Don’t do it unless it’s

absolutely necessary to save the tree, they said. The most difficult part would be carrying it. I

asked her how to treat the roots and whether or not they would be damaged. She said not to

worry, the taproot might be damaged when you dig it up but it will grow back and new roots will

take hold eventually, if you’re lucky. But moving the tree disconnects it from the vast mycelium

network, which takes it away from the neighboring trees. It isolates the tree in a new

environment amongst trees that share carbon, nitrogen, and water like a family shares meals.

You’ll run the risk of isolating the tree forever. You wouldn’t want that for yourself, would you?

HeWenzhao and the Qilin Dance by Frog Wing

On August 11th, HeWenzhao had the formal Opening Event for his studio down in Sima Village, beneath the highway. We took a group photo after he unveiled his new official signage by the front door. He invited friends, family, neighbors, artists, researchers, performers, Buddhist Lamas, Dongbas, and local Christian organizations too. Even Mr. Xuanke of the Old Town Naxi Orchestra made an appearance during lunch. The day's programming featured various speakers, Naxi songs, a Buddhist blessing, Dongba-inspired dance choreography, and a Qilin Dance around sunset, performed by Jixiang Village. 

It's also Erge's birthday (the 12th)! And we've just welcomed our next round of artists to begin Petra's 3rd session of the year. Busy start to the season. 

On a a related note: Qilin Dance is getting a lot of attention this year! 

He Zhao's film studio attended HeWenzhao's event too, and now they feel inspired to film a full-length documentary on the Qilin Dance Revival. They've already stopped by Lijiang Studio to gather interviews, and now are looking to gather video footage on how the costumes and props are made. Teacher Su also visited last week, to conduct a costumed photoshoot down by the lake. I (Frog) am currently working on a Qilin Dance book and hope to have to done within a month's time- before the end of October. It's probably good for this various media coverage to happen simultaneously, we can cover the same phenomena from many different angles... HeJixing hopes it might uncover new paths. 

More updates when these projects come to fruition!

Found Sound China fellows and finalists announced by Jay Brown

Over the past 20 years, hip hop and electronic music cultures have flowed --often in underground channels-- between the U.S. and China. From The Wu-Tang Clan to Rap of China, the influence of this music on mutual perceptions the two countries is immense. The exchange of music has accelerated with the availability of digital tools that allow anyone to create, remix, and share music with the world. Through this process, the remix, sample, ‘beat’ have become the lingua franca of cultural interaction between young musicians in China and America. 

Found Sound China, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, produced by Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation in partnership with China Residencies and Lijiang Studio, is building on this cultural momentum, and adding a much-needed element of personal “offline” connection. From July 1st to July 29, 2018, six talented young music producers -- three from China and three from the USA -- will come together to collaboratively creative original music, revealing the potential of digital music-making to explore the deepening connections between Chinese and American culture in 2018. For one month, these musicians will live and travel together through different regions of China while recording and remixing local sounds.

This year’s six fellows and six finalists were selected by a jury consisting of 5 musicians, residency curators, and educators: Kira Simon-Kennedy, Jeremy Thal, Wei Wei, Jason Hou, and Eddie Lu. 

Check out the fellows here.

Leagues of Breaking Light- fundraiser by Naima Fine by Frog Wing

Naima Fine, one of our artists-in-residence from 2015, is moving forward with her audio-visual work on Yunnan's rhododendrons! Very exciting news. You can support her current project here:

From Naima:

"Hi folks! I've just launched a fundraising campaign to record a big work of ecological sound art I created as an artist in residence at LiJiang Studio in rural China in 2015. The work is a 'sonification' of a PhD thesis exploring effects of climate change on Himalayan Rhododendron flowers. I'm blessed to have some of Australia's best new music specialists playing for me - help me to pay them! I'm presenting this work at the International EcoAcoustics Congress in June, and will ultimately release the recordings as part of a multi-media album. Please check out my project, share it far and wide and donate if you can - any amount will help – and it's tax deductible too! Thanks so much for your support!"


Leagues of Breaking Light is a body of work sonifying ecological climate change research. It translates and interprets ecological data and ideas into musical forms.

Public Colors/ Private Lines by Frog Wing

An update on what our friends in Germany are up to...

Stop by if you're in Berlin around this time! I (Frog) am currently on the way, with an appointment to take a look at Dongba texts behind the vault at STAATSBIBLIOTHEK ZU BERLIN. Please contact me at [email protected] to meet up anytime between April 26- May 8th! 




The exhibition „Public Colors / Private Lines“ shows paintings, drawings and videos by Christine Falk and Alfred Banze, as well as participative projects that they have realized with their association Camping Akademie e.V. in the past 10 years in Berlin and around the world, often in Emerging and developing countries. New works created in China in 2017 form a center of the exhibition. The collection of the city museum is included.

EXHIBITION April 28 to June 24, 2018
Gothic House, Breite Strasse 32, 13597 Berlin Spandau
Mon – Sat 10am to 6pm, Sun 12am to 6pm

VERNISSAGE on Friday, April 27, 2018 at 7pm
Performances by Dawa Frog Wing, Lijiang Studio, USA / China
and Arief Yudi Rahman, Jatiwangi Art Factory, Indonesia
Welcome: Gerhard Hanke, district councilor and Ralf F. Hartmann, cultural office Spandau

FINISSAGE on Wednesday, 20 June 2018 at 7 pm Music performance with Kopi Kaputa
Reading with Christine Falk, travel stories


Exhibition, lectures, performances, talks10 years Camping Akademie e.V.
A regional and international network presents Community Art

Arief Yudi Rahman, Jatiwangi Art Factory, Indonesia
Dava Frog Wing, Lijiang Studio, China/USA
Jiandyin, Baan Noorg Arts & Culture, Thailand (per Skype) 

Andreas Dettloff, Art Foundation,Tahiti

Frank Gerlitzki, SAT, China/Luxembourg
Sokuntevy Oeur, Berlin & Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Kim Dotty Hachmann, Schillerpalais & Top e.V., Berlin
Carola Rümper, mp43, Berlin
Force Raik, Kitty-Yo, Berlin
Stephan Groß, AV-Gruppe Kopi Kaputa, Berlin
Tanya Barnau Sythoff, Berlin & Amsterdam
Christine Falk & Alfred Banze, Camping Akademie e.V., Berlin

Saturday, May 5th
14.00 Opening, artistic installations and information stands
4 – 7 pm Introduction, lectures & talks
7 pm Performances, artistic installations, information stands & music

Sunday, May 6th
2 pm artistic installations and information stands
4 – 7 pm Lectures & talks


show @ Vox Populi by Frog Wing


Flier by Shaina Yang for the Vox Populi show in Philly! Featuring Lao Dan, Theresa Wong, John McCowen, and Shani Aviram

... and below is a video from the night (minus Shani's set, which happened just before)

Thanks to everyone who came out! So glad we made this happen. 

And now we're gearing up for the 2018 session, curated by Petra Johnson. Expect website updates as the months progress! We've got four separate sessions with different rosters of participants, to be filed under chapter: "Mapping the Affective Landscape"... 

《嘟!嘟!返场大会(2017)》招集令 LIJIANG STUDIO – A DUDU CELEBRATION – CALL FOR WORK 2017 by Jay Brown



12 years ago, Jay Brown became a guest of the He family in Jixiang Village, Lashihai, near Lijiang. He turned it into a freestyle open art space. Many artists have been there. And that is the story of Lijiang Studio.       


The neighbors, Er Ge and his family, and the friendly villagers nearby made the Jixiang village like a big family, embracing everyone who visits.  


Later, an urban puppy named Dudu come to the neighbor Er Ge’s house. Dudu became the top dog and a big beautiful mother in the village. And she always accompanied the artists investigating, discussing, and working. She witnessed the road laid, the dam piled up, and the peach paradise implanted.   

“DUDU” is the sound of a time-train 12 years long.


Like the migratory birds of Lashihai, those villagers who once left, then returned to the village again, those artists who once came, then returned to Lijiang Studio again.


Here are things people can’t forget.




With beginning from “DUDU”, let’s start “an encore party” of Jixiang Village.


From June 2017, many previous resident artists return to Lijiang Studio of Jixiang Village, and continue their research with new and different passion. The group’s re-encounters contain surprises. We sincerely invite you to celebrate with us by making make one expression, freely, nothing is forbidden. 



Continuously Show and Transmit:

The works generated will be printed and distributed on A4 paper, as a broadsheet or flyer from a print shop in Lijiang. We also have our eye on the local Tuesday market at Fengle village as a venue, and shops or publics spaces where we think it is possible to have interactive situation. Ideas are welcome. 

作品递交与联系:[email protected], +86 18686503889 



Contact: [email protected] 

Deadline:June 30 2017

Mainly Continuously Activities Venues. (to be determined): City print shop, Tuesday village market, Village stores, Lijiang Studio 


The documentation of this project will be edited, mostly by Lisa, into a book with “what returning artists did and did not do (or something like that)” and “out of Lijiang (or something like that).”


Thanks for your participation and contribution!

Madeline Finn Painting Exhibition 麦德林·芬 丽江工作室画展 by Jay Brown

Madeline Finn, 2016

Madeline Finn, 2016

The series of paintings on display at Lijiang Studio are indicative of the people, objects, landforms and conversation that I encountered during my time in Jixiang Village and other parts of Yunnan. Many of the works are abstracted and process-based. I attempted to collage the essence of my experiences by implementing color theory, mark making, oil paints and waxes. The original forms created with paints were reconfigured when the waxes were heated: spreading, peeling or bubbling the oil pigment to create entirely new forms. Each composition has undergone a succession of this layering process through to the painting’s compostition. This exhibition, with the exception of the more figurative portraits of Grandmother and the black dog, is an abstracted compilation of the facets of Yunnan Province that I have experienced thus far.


Only Time Casts Shadows by Jay Brown


2016-07-02 只有时间留下影子




(Please scroll down for English Version)


1. 用你的方式讲一个关于这个物件的故事;

2. 用这个物件创作你的行为作品,或者由我们来做;

3. 让我们将你的物件保存于时间囊。


2016年7月9日 周六 下午二时

1. 讲述时间的物件

2. 展览开幕

3. 基于时间的行为 -集体场域

4. 音乐演出


2016年7月10日 周日

1. 时间囊仪式

2. 户外空间行为现场

3. 艺术家讲座及作品呈现





阿    俊   


啊    东   

常    雄   

郭    子  


张    苗  


柏    青


Rokko Juhasz


Paper 小组(王蓓/沙玉蓉/杨辉/黄越君) 


特别鸣谢: 丽江工作室、正杰、和丽斌、和恒光 (二哥)、和雪梅、和仕元、和淑芬、和吉宇

联络电话:158 1064 8987(南茜)


Only Time Casts Shadows

Performance Art Encounter

Dates: 9 -10 July 2016

Place: Lijiang Studio – Jixiang Village - Lashihai – Lijiang, Yunnan, China

Organizers: Lijiang Studio and artists in residency - Rokko Juhász & Nanxi Liu

As the ending of our 2-month residency program in Lijiang Studio, we are looking forward an open encountering. Trying to focus on different modalities of the Time, we invite everybody to bring any object related to time and join us at Lijiang Studio. We offer three choices, while your contribution for any other possibilities is warmly welcomed:

1. Tell a story about the object in your own way

2. Do or let us do performance with your object

3. Let us preserve your object in Time Capsule

9th of July 2016 – Saturday2pm

1. Objects related to time

2. Exhibition opening

3. Time based performances – Group Situation

4. Music performances


10th of July 2016 - Sunday

1. Time Capsule Ceremony

2. Outdoor performances
3. Artist talks and presentations


He Libin

Mu Xin Rong

A Jun         

Mu Yun Bai        

A Dong              

Chang Xiong      

Guo Zi  

Liu Liwei          

Zhang Miao 

Kuang Laowu

Bai Qing    

Paper Group (Wang Bei, Sha Yurong, Yang Hui, Huang Yuejun)

Nanxi Liu

Rokko Juhasz


Jixiang Village Orchestra

Special thanks to: Lijiang Studio, Jay Brown, He Libin, He Hengguang (Er Ge), He Xuemei, He Shiyuan, He Shufen, He Jiyu

Contact No.: +86 158 1064 8987 (Nanxi)