描绘情感景观 2018

Records of the artist-led residency: In Sight of the Glacier


Petra Johnson

Introduction (Engl/Chin)

Book 1 May14th – June 24 th

Chapter 1 Landings (Chin/Engl)

Chapter 2 Groundings

Chapter 3 Findings (Chin/Engl)

Book 2 July 9 th – August 6 th

Chapter 4 Between Landings and Groundings (Chin/Engl)

Chapter 5 Founding(s)

Book 3 August 9 th – September 6 th

Chapter 6 One Day in a Week of Grounding

Chapter 7 Acts of Founding

Book 4 September 30 th – October 28 th

Chapter 8 At the Close of the Week of Grounding

Chapter 9 A Book of Findings (Witold von Ratingen; Kartika Mediani; He

Jixing; Qingwa; Wu Shuyin; Adrian Tyus; Petra Johnson)


In 2017, we instigated the DuDu project which invited artists who had been at the studio before for a return visit. One of these artists was Petra Johnson, who had first come to the village in 2006. Petra has been working on and off with dancers since 2008 and recognized the immense potential of Lijiang Studio for poly-disciplinary (action-oriented) peer led gatherings. Petra first initiated poly-disciplinary gatherings during her residency at Swatch Art Peace Hotel (2014/5) and continues to do so at the College of Design & Innovation at Tongji University.

For Lijiang Studio she developed this concept (English/ Chinese).

The criteria for selecting artists/researchers begun by putting forward a range of disciplines. In order to invite recommendations, this initial list was shared with those who have worked with Lijiang Studio over a long period of time and are sensitized to the specific circumstances of this unique setting.


We now have four blocks of gatherings, with the first one, titled “Under the Glacier“ starting May 14th, 2018. The participating artists from Vietnam, the UK, Canada, Taiwan and China will be introducing themselves in due course.

The second block is in July, the third in August and the fourth in October. Each block brings together different individuals from a wide range of practices and a wide geographical area.

The four week blocks are structured as follows:

A week of landing

A week of grounding

A week of finding

A week of founding

Whilst artists are free to pursue their agenda, we will be holding open studio sessions (mounting of enquiries and processing with other minds) on Sunday evenings and meet every Tuesday for study sessions of chosen texts that assist in linkage making and relating experience to larger contexts.


The framework for documenting this residency program is a map, a map of lines made by and from walking. The paths and roads that link locations in Jixiang Village and that link Jixiang Village with the nearest market towns can - pre-dominantly - trace their origin to paths made by walking, specifically 

a web of paths walked for mutual visits and shared participation in funerals, weddings, and festivals

interlinks with

the branched structure of roads made for market exchange and bureaucratic transactions.

The key to this map will emerge with and through each artist’s encounter with the locality; with a coming upon locations that ask for/inspire site-resonant lines of investigations. This collaborative enquiry toward an embracive domain view – literally a walk of widening circuits ‘toward the right hand’ – might help to reformulate given conditions for both artists and our hosts, as well as discover new co-ordinates.


Petra would like to thank all of the artists for their pro-active responses as well as Jay Brown for his thoughtful support and Dava Wing for concise and fluid matchmaking, literally done on a wing


Book 1                         May14th – June 24th

            Chapter 1                        Landings (Chin/Engl)

View of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from Lijiang Studio, Jixiang village, Lashihai

View of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from Lijiang Studio, Jixiang village, Lashihai

Situated along the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, Yulong mountain is located in the Hengduan mountain range in Yunnan Province, 25 km north of Lijiang. It extends 35 km from south to north and 13 km from west to east. With a highest peak of 5596 m, it is the southeasternmost glacierized area in Eurasia. The 19 glaciers on Yulong mountain, which have a total area of 11.61km2, are maintained by the southern Asian monsoon climate.

Peeping from between the ridges of two mountains into the window of our first floor studio is the snow covered peak of Jade Dragon Mountain.

What does it mean to work within the visual field of a glacier?

How many temporalities does a glacier contain apart from the most immediate of melting with every breath we take?

How many frozen life forms are re-animated?

Will the intimacy between earth and person, the weaving of our ’reading’ of earth and our ’reading’ of life take on a different shape and how might the documentation of our time together structure such an exploration?

What technologies of perceptions shape this particular gathering of

Sheryl Cheung

Xia Lin

Lucy Rogers

Quyen Nguyen

Jay Brown

Er Ge


Yen San


He Jiyu, 22 days away from taking his 高考

Bruce Bo Ding

Lao He

Nha Thuyen

Petra Johnson


During the time of landing, we hear that Nha, Yen San and Quyen cannot get a visa. Two poets and a ten year old boy described as a portrait maker, will not join us in person. We explore how to bring them into our gathering from afar, a poem by Quyen appears on the kitchen wall.


Landing, every detail, no matter how small matters during these first days, the nest the swallows built by the library, bad news, sharing a memory, an unexpected sound, the cherries dropping into our open hands at the slightest touch of a branch, young maize plants planted in zigzag lines.... the glacier. Surprisingly, it has been visible every day. Its steady presence allows the state of precariousness that accompanies landings to emerge at full blast. Simultaneously, this eye contact with the glacier nurtures trust in initial intuition and opens a dialogue, an investigation of temporalities and intimacies not yet encountered.




玉龙雪山坐落于青藏高原东缘,是横断山脉经过云南省的一部分,距 丽江约25公里。它南北长约35公里,东西长约13公里,最高处海拔5596米,并育有亚欧大陆距离赤道最近的冰川。在南亚的季风气候 下,玉龙雪山分布有19条冰川,总面积达11.61平方千米。

从工作室一楼的窗户向外望去,显露于两峰之间的,正是被积雪覆盖 的玉龙雪山。


除了随着我们的每次呼吸而不断地融化,冰川蕴含的时间性还有哪些 ?


身土之亲密与对土地和生命的“阅读”交织起来,会否有所变化?而我 们对在此度过的时间的记录,又将怎样组织这样的探索? 对土地的“阅读”与对生命的“阅读”交织,对于我们在此度过的时间,


张欣 Sheryl Cheung
大侠 Xia Lin
露西·罗杰斯 Lucy Rogers Quyen Nguyen

正杰Jay Brown
二哥 Er Ge
雪梅 Xuemei
和士元,爷爷 和淑芬,奶奶 和吉宇,还有22天就要高考 和吉星

Yen San Amma/Anai
丁博 Bruce Bo Ding Lao He
Nha Thuyen
佩雀 Petra Johnson

在落地的这段时间里,我们收到消息 ,诗人Quyen和Nha以及他们十岁的宝 宝Yen San因为签证问题而无法加入我 们。但我们仍然想把他们从遥远的地 方带到我们身边,于是厨房的墙上就 出现了Quyen写的一首诗。

在落地的过程中,每个细节——无论 多么细小——都是非常重要的:书房 屋檐下的燕巢,坏消息,分享记忆,

意外的声响,轻碰枝桠便跌落手心的果子,之字型种植的玉米......还 有冰川。令人意外的是,我们几乎天天都可以见到它。巍立不动冰川 更加剧了伴随落地而来的不确定感。与此同时,与冰川的目光接触也 灌溉了最初的信任,并开启了关于时间性的对话和探索,以及那尚未 相遇的亲密感。


Book 1                         May14th – June 24th

  Chapter 2                        Groundings

Grounding is a process of identifying context, of beginning the never-ending process of understanding that makes a location possible, and the stories that describe it's emergence: a world in formation, when things move(d) into being.

Here, in and around Jixiang Village, the necessities that emerge(d) from these movements were once re-enacted annually in the name of the earth spirit. They were chanted rather than physically re-traced. In a spiraling fashion, the chanted journey swept all the good toward this location, the body of the village. In such a chant, "the cadence walks where the entity it leads walks and rests where it rests." (Mueggler; 2001; p.247)

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'What does it mean, the location as our curator?' What is required for the process of curing: A vessel? A twinkle in a locals' eye? A channelling of energy? All of these help to alter, to solidify, to gel.

What questions are better asked from here than elsewhere?' What is it about this location that alters as it contributes to sensation, to affect, to life, to thought, and to a deeper politics?

Or to ask differently, what nooks and crannies; which niche of the artistic imagination can flourish here, where rhythm and timescales are of a different order?' What does it mean to become present in a world in which' objects and daily life pose a challenge to the very logic and contemporary reasoning of the functioning of the world?' 

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During the time of landing, like a body just pregnant, there are moments of repulsion, there is discomfort, there is a visceral sense of disorientation. The urban body needs time to adjust.

By contrast, the second week of our stay is a time of rhythmic alignments; different modes of engagement with the location emerge. What is it that keeps one of us in the compound and another traversing the village in circles, and yet another to-ing and fro-ing in a star-shaped configuration from one end to the other of the farm, to the lake, to the local village shop. Is it simply that these forms of movements serve our different practices?

Moving through and along local buildings, past multi-crop fields, bulging haystacks and bundles of twigs by the wayside - sticks that shine bright red in the rain and return to a dull grey-brown once dry - we are embedded in craftsmanship and a confident aesthetics, a dramatic textural difference from the urban context. These line any of the passages either of us move along, no matter how and for what purpose.

What is necessary to be here, 'to be present?'

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What is our relationship to necessity?

In pre-Socratic times, chaos was understood as the source from which things moved into being out of necessity, out of having to be used. Here the story goes 'When trees could walk, when stone cracks could talk, when the earth rumbled, when the everything was still one, the shadows of heaven and earth slowly emerged'.[1]

In dongba culture the village is perceived as a body. Traditionally, at the beginning of the new lunar year, the elders (men only) would gather at a high point overlooking the village and chant a spiraling route. The route would set off from a city further afield, and as the chant circled toward the body that is the village, it would sweep all the good things toward it.

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Within this body/village, every space is being used and there are no formal boundaries. The things/ objects within and of this space have a distinctive quality: they carry a tactile memory. At this time of grounding there is enough familiarity to look and dig deeper, a time when things have not yet become so invisible that they cannot be separated from the self.

A Peach and a Pumpkin

Here dinner is determined by what is growing outdoors, the weather, the mood. Likewise tools are adapted to the (human) body and the body locates places of rest indoors as well as outdoors, in furrows as well as by the fire or simply in the company of another crouching by the wheel of a car.

Any thing made can and is re-made or re-built. Even if the materials are different in the re-building, it will be considered to be the same, i.e. it serves the same neccessity. Everything around us is working according to a wide variety of life spans and lifetimes. It takes time and skill to tune into them: multi crop fields growing peaches and pumkins, being but one example.


At the close of a pig roasting day last Thursday, 28th May, Er Ge proposed a toast "The earth belongs to us." Here, at the table outside the studio kitchen, in such diverse company, of lives lived in Beijing, Tacheng, Shaanxi Province, Jixiang Village, Taipei, Hongkong, Guangzhou, Lijiang, London, New York, Haidong Village and Shanghai, the sentence struck like an evanescent discovery.

Lijiang Studio, Jixiang Village, 4th June 2018

[1]Translation by Sheryl Cheung


Lepecki, A. (2017) Decolonizing the Curatorial, avalaible at

Mueggler, E. (2001) The Age of Wild Ghosts  University of California Press

Kagis-McEwan, I. (1993) Socrates’ Ancestors  MIT Press


Book 1                         May14th – June 24th
  Chapter 3                        Findings (Chin/Engl)


Before launching into Chapter 3 (Finding) of our residency, I like to share Sheryl Cheung’s ’Readings of a Landscape’ that emerged from her encounter with the location during the time of Landing and Grounding, see separate document.

Another Prelude

During the time of grounding, the four baby swallows - now old enough to leave their nest - drew boisterous curves across the courtyard, linking the roof edge of the kitchen with that of the library with that of our sleeping quarters and back to the kitchen roof again and again. The directional forces of their flights reflect our movements on the ground. 

 在进入我们驻留经历的第三章 (发现)之前,我想分享 《景观的阅读》,其作者谢丽尔·张与当地的相遇启发了她的创作,与《Landing and Grounding》的创作时间同步。另见说明。


在人们对周围环境建立感知的过程中, 这里曾经四只小燕子躁动着在院子里画出热闹的曲线, 永不停息地把厨房的屋顶、图书馆的房顶、以及寝室的屋檐连在一起。现在这些燕子已经够大了, 可以离开他们的巢穴独立生活。它们飞行的方向和我们在地面上的运动不谋而合。

Chapter 3:  Findings

‘Finding entails the act and process of searching as well as the outcome, the thing discovered,’ (Girot in Corner, J. 1999; 63)

The following is A Montage of Disparate Entities  

and consists of five textual findings, one visceral finding and two movement-propelled findings by each resident artist:

3章: 探索结果

"探索成果不仅牵涉到结论和被发现的具体事物,其行为本身和过程也不可或缺," (Girot 在角落里, J. 1999; 63)

下面这个汇聚多种元素的蒙太奇涵盖了五个文本探究结果: 一个是深层次的发现,另一个则是运动推动的结果:

The time of finding was guided by the question: Is that which has been found an object, an integral part of the landscape, an experience, a question, a possibility? In retrospect our discovery emerged once we joined an integral part of the landscape 

- with an experience, 

- with a question, 

- with a possibility and with reflections about objects. 

During the time of searching my footing became/has been uncertain; it has been exhilarated by the promise of unknown territory; it has been fatigued by t(h)reading across shifty terrain; it has been exasperated by the predictability of encountering the already known, whilst looking for it’s other.

探究的过程是以以下问题为导向的: 这就是被发现的对象吗? 它是景观的一个组成部分吗? 它代表着一段经验、 一个问题、还是一种可能性?回想起来,我们的研究发现似乎是伴随着我们对周遭景物注入的经历、疑问、对事物的心得而萌生的。

在我搜寻期间, 我的脚步变得飘忽不定,它似乎被未知的领土所振奋;它已因长途跋涉的起起伏伏而倦怠;它对已知的可预测性感到不可耐烦, 同时它也在不断寻觅着其它的领域。

Textual Findings 文本心得 (1)

and Textual Findings 文本心得 (2)


Movement-propelled Findings

运动启发的心得 (1)

Searchings do lead to discoveries. 

Discoveries make themselves known by a moment of surprise 

or the outcome of a systematic search. Discoveries share the ’I did not know that’: 

a distinct quality of place; the door to an open possibility and/or the framework that supports one’s intuition. 


这些发现成果以各种形式出现,或是片刻的惊喜;或是系统搜索的结果。所有的发现都代表了人们先前 的未知:对一个地方的独特性的未知;对通往可能性的那道扇门的未知,或实际支撑我们直觉的认知框架的未知。

Textual Findings 文本心得 (3) 

              Textual Findings 文本心得 (4) 

 By now we, resident artists, share the experience of being ‘in’ something. Our separate activities, experiences and observations are leading to emergences. Being synchronous in that we meet at mealtime and occasionally travel together, helps to alert us to the potential of a manifest moment, when all three previous stages become synthesized: A Founding.

当时, 我们这群驻留艺术家共同分享着一种“心无旁骛”的经验。我们彼此个体的活动、经验、和观察让灵感不断涌现。我们在饮食起居时的同步和一起旅行时的作伴都有助于唤醒我们对现实所隐藏的内涵的认识。当这三个阶段融为一体时: 一个发现就应运而生了。

Movement propelled Findings (2) 

 Coming back at 9.29am on the 23rd of May, I encountered a man seemingly talking to the trees. Once within hearing distance I realised the man was counting trees in sets of five. I sent a we chat message, wondering this observation might portend? Quyen responded from Hanoi. She suggested the man might be a cartographer, she recalled that children too count trees. 

By 11.37am some trees had acquired yellow flags. 

By 15.39 trees were being felled. 

在 5月23日早上9点29分回来的时候, 我遇到了一个似乎在和树说话的男人。有一次, 我无意间听到这个人在以5棵树为单位数这些树木。我发了一条微信消息给我的朋友寻求答案, 不知道这一发现究竟预示着什么?身处河内的Quyen回复了我的消息 。她猜想这个人可能是制图师。在她的记忆力,当地的孩子也会数树木。

到了那天早上的11点37分, 其中的一些树木获得了黄色的旗帜。


Visceral Findings 深度发现 (1)               

We discover a shared question.

 At the lower end of the trunk the felling of a tree begins with the shrieking of a saw followed by creaking sounds as fibres tear. Weighed down by the mass of the upper trunk’s crown and with more than half of their number already severed, the fibres hold on verticality is profoundly diminished. A couple of men pull a rope tied to the crown. The fibres stretch as they tear apart from each other, they groan and finally split.


在树干更低的末端,砍树的过程从电锯的尖叫开始,然后我们可以听到吱吱作响的撕毁纤维的声音。受树冠的重量所压,超过一半的纤维已经被切断,而 保持垂直方向的纤维寥寥无几了。两个人拉动着拴在树冠上的绳子。纤维彼此一面拉伸一面撕裂。他们呻吟着, 最后彻底被断开。

We meet Hexiudong, Dongba priest and mediator between nature (Shu) and human. A possibility emerges, maybe together we can find a way of processing our experience. Hexiudong explains that any form of encounter concerning nature and human would only be meaningful if it took place at the source of water. 

  我们遇见了何秀东,他是处于自然 (蜀) 和人类之间的东巴神父和传递者。一种新的可能性萌生了:也许我们可以一起找到一种方法来诠释我们的经验。何秀东解释道, 如果发生在水的源头,那么关乎于人与自然的任何形式的接触都是有意义的。

Textual Findings 文本发现 (5) 

To be looking for a water source also makes sense for more domestic reasons: - we work in sight of the glacier; there is the proximity of the lake: Lashihai, where local fish comes from; there is the intricate irrigation system that lines and raises every road; and almost every late afternoon, we see Amma fetching drinking water from a well. And finally, as Hexiudong says and Timothy Morton writes, ’We all contain water in about the same ratio as Earth does, and salt water in the same ratio that the oceans do.’ (Morton. 51; 2011). 

寻找水源对驻留生活本身而言也颇具意义:我们就在冰川附近工作,而且距离拉市海不远。拉市海汇聚了当地的鱼类,并且拥有覆盖支撑所有道路的错综复杂的灌溉系统;几乎每到傍晚, 我们都看到 Amma 从井里取水。最后, 正如 Hexiudong 所说和蒂莫西. 莫顿所写, ' 我们都含有与地球相同的比例的水, 和海水含盐比值相同的盐水。(莫顿 51; 2011)。

The first spring we visit is distant from the village and has become a tourist attraction.  Rather than searching for another one we wait. We spent a morning in the Dongba library. In both, Dongba myth and Ovid’s tale, mortals take or fail to share what is beyond their need. 

我们参观的第一个水源地是一个距离村庄不远的旅游景点。我们没有东寻西觅,而是在原地静观其变。我们在东巴图书馆度过了一个上午。在东巴神话和奥维德的故事里, 凡人都是因为自己无福消受的事物而遭遇不幸。

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Movement-propelled Findings (3) 

The following day, he takes us to a path off the local country road. A brick-making workshop; a power grid station and a pig farm line the path; the path leads us below the highway to a hollowed out mountain. Leaving the cavity behind us, we continue to climb up. Now we are walking alongside a small stream: part of it runs through a pipe and part of it runs freely. A small herd of cows and their calves graze in the woodlands. We clamber on following the sound of goats further up and find the source of the stream. We are traversing an integral part of the landscape.

第二天, 他带我们去了当地乡间小路。我们中途经过一个制砖车间、一个电网站、和一个养猪场线的路径;这条小路通向公路下的一座山洞。我们穿过山洞后继续顺着山道爬上去。当时我们正沿着一条小溪走着: 它的一部分被灌注到管道里, 另一部分自由地流淌着。一小群奶牛和它们的牛崽们在林地里吃草。我们沿着山羊的声音爬上去, 找到了小溪的源头。我们当时穿越的,是当地自然景观的一个不可分割的部分。



Why would the tenor of the statement made by Erge ’The earth belongs to us’ be an ’evanescent’ discovery, a possibility; a fleeting sense of potential to someone like myself who experiences the earth as belonging to itself: 

as an entity that cradles my walks (in the city as well as here); 

as a detached observer (when amongst trees, fields, mountains and along rivers) 

and as an aspiration (when watching/drawing seeds/seedlings turn into plants/fruit/flower/vegetable). 


The mesh that informs my experience of an evanescent discovery; the ’I did not know’ response to Erge’s statement is shaped by an environment in which nature is a commodity and in which a sense of entitlement that has faith in human ingenuity to fix any harm done, prevails; in which personal growth needs self-made challenges and in which external influences prevail. As Sheryl noted, both of the myths mentioned above are set outdoors where mortals are often vulnerable to external influences.

By contrast, when sustenance is the goal, durational circular relationships form. 


Lijiang Studio, 18th June 2018


为什么 "地球属于我们" 感言中的论调代表着一种“逐渐消逝”的发现, 一种可能性,以及对像我这种亲身体验过地球独立性的人来说, 一种转瞬即逝的潜能感: 

地球是我脚步的摇篮 (不论在城市还是这里) ;

地球一个独立的观察者 (在树木、田野、山脉、河畔) 

地球是一种向往 (当播种时、观察水果时、和花卉或蔬菜的幼苗成长时)

在我看到的地球上,自然是为人类所用的,人类的主观能动性可以平复一切。正是这个特殊的环境丰富了我对“逐渐消逝的发现”的认知,也是它激励着我用一句“我原来不知道”来回应Erge的声明。 是由一个环境, 其中自然是商品, 并在其中的权利感, 有信心的人的聪明才智, 以弥补任何伤害, 盛行;人类必须要挑战自我才能不断成长, 而外在的影响才是最普遍的。正如谢丽尔所指出的, 上述两种神话都是在户外设置的, 在那里凡人往往容易受到外在的影响。




References & Further Reading Material:

Corner, J. (1999) Recovering Landscape Princeton Architectural Press

Lippard, L. (1997) The Lure of the Local New Press, NY

Morton, T. (2011) Objects as Temporary Autonomous Zones, continent.1.3 (2011) 149-155 

Morton, T. (2013) Hyperobjects University of Minnesota Press

Mueggler, E. (2011) The Paper Road, University of California Press

Ovid (1971), Metamorphoses, transl. F.J. Miller, Harvard University Press

Stewart K. in Gregg, M. et al (2010) The Affect Theory Reader Duke University Press

Stewart, K. (2013) Tactile Compositions available on

1.  ‘Nearly every Dongba ritual act includes a meticulous accounting of and restitution for incursion upon the nonhuman world’ which are perceived as transgressions upon the initial contract between human and nature, two brothers with different mothers. (Mueggler. 2011; 97)

几乎每一个东巴礼仪法案都包括对人类世界在被入侵洗礼后的重建, 这被认为是一种对人与自然的最初契约的违反, 二者就像一对同母异父的兄弟。 (Mueggler. 2011; 97)

Between Landings and Groundings

Book 2                         July 9th – August 6th
  Chapter 4                         Between Landings and Groundings (Chin/Engl)


第四章: 从下榻到驻留

Movement without Doubt 轻盈的运动

A Family of Emergences1 Seeking A World

On living with a Wal-Mart over the mountain, anthropologist Kathleen Stewart writes,
‘It was then that I begun to think, along with others, that nameable clarities like family or friendship or love or collapse or laughing or telling stories or violence or place are all bloom spaces. They are all forms of attending to what is happening, sensing out, accreting attachment and detachments, differences and indifferences, losses and proliferating possibilities.’ (Stewart. K; 2010; 344).


谈及与沃尔玛共居一山的经历,人类学家凯思林·斯图尔特(Kathleen Stewart)写到:

“从那时起,我开始与他人有了共通的领悟。很多生活中意味清晰的符号,比如“家庭”、“友情”、“崩溃”、“欢笑”、“讲述”、“暴力”、“地点”, 都是滋生蕴意的土壤。它们以各自的形式诠释着人们对生活的专注、羁绊、离别、差异、冷漠、失利、以及生命中生生不息的可能性。

Like Stewart, we too live with a Wal-Mart over the mountain.

On this day, at the beginning of the second week of our residency, the glacier made its first appearance since our arrival.
Like Wal-Mart, it hovers behind a mountain.

Framed by the above, we ask once again: ‘How can questions that emerge from our encounter with the location participate in emergent realities?’ And ‘What niche of the artistic imagination, that cannot flourish anywhere else, can flourish here?’

But who are ‘we’, who address these questions?





On July 9th a new group of artists convened to consider the topic of ‘Mapping the Affective Landscape’ during weekly study sessions. With our arrival begins also a new chapter in the residency program. Not only do each of us perceive the landscape differently, coming as we do with clearly distinguishable sets of skills, sensitivities and memory spaces, but also the landscape presents itself to each group of artists differently.

In July the first crop of peaches is being harvested; the size of maize, gourd plants and sunflowers makes it impossible now to traverse field paths without causing some damage and water levels have risen, so that the improvised passages across man-made channels - made up of slats of wood and bags of concrete - have become flooded.


7月是年内第一批桃子收获的季节;如玉米、葫芦、向日葵般大的桃子的大小使得人们不可能在不损害果实的情况下穿越田间小路。与此同时水位也有所上升,因此临时由由木板条和混凝土袋组成的人造渠道 也被淹没了。

Aided by our host family, Xuemei, Erge, Jiyu, Amma and LaoHe, we, who are attuning our rhythms, our thinking, our visceral and sentient bodies, are

在我们的寄宿家庭,  Xuemei, Erge, Jiyu, Amma 和LaoHe的帮助下, 我们接通我们的节奏, 我们的思想, 我们的内脏和有知觉的身体。我们是:

Hanne van Dyck: fine artist 美术家


Kitamari: dancer 舞者

/// /

Stephanie DeBoers: poet & media critic/ theorist 诗人&媒体评论员/理论家


He Jixing: filmmaker 电影人

46dfb919c3085 // (Password: HJX5991xjh)

Li Lisha: artist 艺术家

Jay Brown: founder of Lijiang Studio 丽江工作室创始人

Quanquan: 3-year old girl 三周岁的小姑娘

Petra Johnson- artist 艺术家


Utsa Hazarika, an artist/anthropologist from India/US as well as family members and in-laws from Kumming, neighbours and friends, who played important roles in the formation of the studio, join us for some of the time during the festive season of Tabbu, which began on Friday, the 13th July: the first day of the sixth lunar month. Jixing tells me the festivities will last for fifteen days. The village has become a busy place. The roadside by the entrance to most farmhouses is lined with cars. I encounter a form of movement, I have not noted before in this location: ambling. This ‘walking without purpose’ in groups brings with it imaginary spaces of the sentient body: the puzzling space of homecoming after long absences and, for the in-laws, the semi-magic space of encountering the childhood environs of a loved one. Back in the 70s, Mueggler notes, pestilence came with the sixth lunar month. ‘With no pesticides in use until the late 1970s, insects feasted in clusters on the rice stalks. Women spent their days in the fields sweeping long, plaited bamboo scoops over the rice plants, trapping the pests, and packing them into tightly woven carrying baskets to burn.’ (Mueggler. 2001; 151).

来自印度/美国的艺术家/人类学家Utsa Hazarika以及来自昆明的家庭成员和姻亲,邻居和朋友,在工作室的组建过程中发挥了重要作用,并在Tabbu节日期间与我们共处。Tabbu节从7月13日的星期五开始:农历六月的第一天。吉星告诉我,庆祝活动将持续十五天。这个村庄俨然因此变得繁忙。大多数农舍入口处的路边都是汽车。我结识了一种在来云南前从未留意过的运动形式:漫步。这种团体性的“无目的地行走”为身体意识带来更多的想象空间:背井离乡多年后与公婆的旧地重逢所带来的错愕,以及遇到亲人和童年环境的半魔法化的空间感。 Mueggler指出,早在70年代,瘟疫就发生在每年农历六月。 “直到20世纪70年代后期人们才使用杀虫剂,遏制昆虫在稻秆上成群结块。女人们在稻田里清扫许久,编织竹铲,捕捉害虫,并将它们装入紧密编织的筐中燃烧。“(Mueggler.2001; 151)。

In 2018, men organise the social space for encounters including visits to other families and prepare the meat whilst women spend their days preparing meals. Every one of them is a feast for us humans, notwithstanding such everyday hiccups, as a broken phone, a cooker that refuses to work and a dog bleeding profusely from escaping a trap.


Forms of attending

In the time of landing, it is the breakfast for one, the movements of LaoHe for another that help stabilise one’s presence during the first week. Jixing, who lives here, is repeatedly becoming part of new configurations from the inside and thus experiences the time of landing in inverse order. Telling stories: He has been dreaming of a nine-headed snake. Once he realised the heads were human, he lost all fear. The heads lined up one after the other with just their backs visible. There had been nine artists before we came. I wonder what configuration we will acquire in his dreams once we are gone.




We touch upon references, films, texts: ‘The Century of Self’ by Adam Curtis; ‘The Art of not being governed’ by James C. Scott. A new question, ‘Are Avery Gordon (in Ghostly Matters) and Kathleen Stewart trying to connect the epistemological (what might be known and how it can be known) with the social?’ For once a definite answer: a resounding ‘Yes’.

我们参考了文献,电影和文本:“亚当柯蒂斯的“自我的世纪”;詹姆斯·斯科特的“不受治理的艺术”。一个新的问题诞生了:“Avery Gordon(在Ghostly Matters中)和Kathleen Stewart是否试图将认识论(可认知的以及如何认知)与社会联系起来?”


The route from Landing to Grounding leads into the long, never-ending process of reading and understanding. Landings, by contrast, happen in a short span of time and cannot be repeated. Telling stories: Jay tells us about the role of the village chief, about his being caught between the local government and the villagers; how upon ending the reign of a corrupt village chief, the women demanded to replace his position with a women’s committee; how, in spite of being ignored by the local government, the women held this role for one and a half years alongside a new village chief installed by the government. Right now the only task the current village chief - of whom the villagers approve - has to take care of, is the resurfacing of roads. He is grateful, that no other demands are made on him. Here in the valley, everything is more legible and thus easier to put in the ledger. In the mountains it is more difficult to control people and their actions but that invisibility might come with other forms of constraints, like giving up schools.


讲述:Jay向我们解释了村长的职责以及他是如何在民众和政府之间斡旋的;如何在他结束腐败村长的统治时,妇女要求以妇女委员会的名义取代其职位的; 尽管被当地政府忽视,妇女是如何在一年半的时间里与新上任的村长分享此职务的。现在,现任被村民认可的新村长的当务之急是重铺道路。他对这些没有其它过分要求的村民表示感激。在山谷中,一切都显得如此清晰、如此容易被记录。在山区,政府对民众的行为控制会相对宽松,但这种自由也伴随着其他形式的限制,比如教育的缺失。

How can we work with the ‘Location as Curator’? How to inhabit the disturbance of being cured (as in to prepare or alter), of feeling coerced into having to give things away; of feeling it is easier to start from oneself rather than a place; of feeling unfocussed?


How to allow questions that can only be asked here, to emerge?
For Steph, this entails letting go of the imaginary for action, she came with: of not writing poetry. She is writing lists of nouns and verbs/actions.



How to be here?
Here, where you have time and space to create whatever you want. How to negotiate the effort to come out?
How to maintain the alertness to every difference ‘making’ a difference?

What aids come to our assistance?






Living in a family home ‘makes’ us aware of connectivity.
Living in a space of generosity ‘makes’ a difference, both the fertility of the land and the generosity of Xuemei, Erge, Jiyu, Jixing, Amma and LaoHe are for many of us unprecedented.

Our encounter with the location spans the extremes of beginnings: Jixing was born here; for Steph and Mari the day, when the glacier becomes visible, is the eighth day of their stay. In between those anchor points, Jay, Li Lisha, Petra and Hanne have had encounters of varying lengths with the location, beginning in 2005.


生活在充斥着人性慷慨一面的空间中对我们是“有一定影响的”,无论是土地的肥沃还是Xuemei, Erge, Jiyu, Jixing, Amma 和LaoHe 的慷慨,都是我们许多人从未感受过的体验。

我们大家与地点的相遇跨越了形态各异的起点:Jixing出生在这里;对于斯蒂芬和马里来说,在他们逗留的第八天时,冰川出现了。在这些定位点之间,Jay,Li Lisha,Petra和Hanne从2005年开始就经历了与当地深浅不一的缘分。

Re-Telling Stories wrongly from memory
Jixing joins in during Steph’s daily conversations with her husband, who is in the US. Jixing: ‘Why is he on the couch?’
Steph: ‘It’s Friday.’
Jixing: ‘Today is not Friday and he is on the couch.’
Steph: ‘The couch is his place when he talks to me.’

Forms of attending

In Butoh, Bu means dance and to (sometimes toh) means step. The dancer uncovers the dance already in the body. The starting point is the place of one’s handicap.2









Telling Stories

Mari tells us that Butoh returns the dancer to the body of the farmer, that all movements are related to the earth and gravity. Butoh has gone underground again in Japan whilst it enjoys immense popularity in the West. Mari walks and cycles everyday, studies gestures, flows with the locality.


Mari告诉我们Butoh将舞者与农夫的身体联系在一起,所有的动作都与地球和重力有关。 Butoh在西方享有极大的声望的同时在日本逐渐隐匿了它的文化影响。 Mari每天都会走路和骑车,学习新的姿势,随环境而行动。

Steph reads a quote from Stewart:

All the world is a bloom space now. A promissory note. An allure and a threat that shows up in ordinary sensibilities of not knowing what compels, not being able to sit still, being exhausted, being left behind or being ahead of the curve, being in history, being in a predicament, being ready for something—anything—to happen, or orienting yourself to the sole goal of making sure that nothing (more) will happen. A bloom space can whisper from a half-lived sensibility that nevertheless marks whether or not you’re in it. It demands collective attunement and a more adequate description of how things make sense, fall apart, become something else, and leave their marks, scoring refrains on bodies of all kinds—atmospheres, landscapes, expectations, institutions, states of acclimation or endurance or pleasure or being stuck or moving on. Affect matters in a world that is always promising and threatening to amount to something. Fractally3 complex, there is no telling what will come of it or where it will take persons attuned. (2010; 340)



Telling Stories

A brother who used to smell like a wet dog ....’even worse’... is evoked in our imagination.

Petra reads a quote from Lauren Berlant

’Affect affects worlds and is impacted by them; the disjunction between affect, the event of its worlding (when it seeks a world), and anything like consciousness makes possible different encounters with oneself and one’s objects. Moving differently with affect is therefore not the same as pretending that a drama of decision changes things permanently or fundamentally. It involves discovering and inhabiting disturbances in the relation between one’s affects and one’s imaginaries for action. That discovery is the site of potentially recontextualizing creativity.’ (2014;89)



Petra引述了Lauren Berlant的一句话

'情感影响世界并受其影响;情感之间的脱节,它“归属性”的行为(当它寻求一种归属感时),以及任何类似意识之类的东西,都可以造成个体与本我与自我之间的交集。因此,以不同的方式对情感进行捕捉与假设一个戏剧性的决策可以永久性或根本性地改变事物是不同的。它涉及发现和承载存在于情感和对行动的想象的关系中的矛盾。发现是重新构建潜能创造力的基础。'(2014; 89)

persons attuned

Steph recalls the Japanese word kuuki o yomu: To read the air in a social context


斯蒂芬回忆起日语单词kuuki o yomu:在社会背景下解读气氛

Telling Stories

Seven days of Landing

Lisha has lived here for three years between 2006 and 2009. She returned in 2017. On this, her second return, she first cleaned the studio as she had done on leaving last summer.
Lisha comes with an imaginary for action:
to experience life here in her physicality;

to experience many things she has not experienced before.

During this first week she has been washing dishes and discovered a way to wash the dishes so the fields do not get polluted;
She is learning to prepare Jiatsu, a natural fertiliser;
she begun building a compost structure: she and Jixing went and got mud from the river, a crane there helped loading up their little truck;

she got pig shit and discovered it is not that dirty;
she finished the compost structure and experienced happiness that night;
she prepared a small piece of land to farm organically;
she met people who explore the relationship between one’s inner life and the land; people who shared their experience with her;
she discovered one should use a fork to break the earth rather than a spade which compresses as it divides
she was told to put oneself very low in order to face nature.

’Every one of these moments felt like a landing’, she says.

















Lisha is thinking of making a mural of a grandmother, daughter and granddaughter fighting; a semi- playful incident she observed on the train coming here. She plans to place it between the large, bright red characters that announce a new government slogan ’people’s war’ on the wall of the old primary school in the village.

We return to the Wal-Mart over the Mountain
So far we have not needed to go there, have not missed anything except, maybe, a smidgeon of sugar.

Musing about the word affect, Utsa observes that ’If you don’t feel the lack of it, you don’t need the word.’





Quanquan joins the discussion with a refrain: Dengzi

(Stool, Chair, Stool, Chair......) A list of nouns.

A naming into being.
Spoken by a three-year old, each word gives birth to a liminal space harbouring the emergence of new thoughts seeking a world.












1 emergence occurs when "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts," meaning the whole has properties its parts do not have. Wikipedia

2 “Start from the place of your handicap,” Hijikata’s female counterpart Ashikawa Yoko liked to say (Fraleigh, p.3; 2006)

3 Word Origin and History for fractal
1975, from French fractal, from Latin fractus "interrupted, irregular," literally "broken," past participle of frangere "to break" (see fraction). Coined by French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in "Les Objets Fractals."
Many important spatial patterns of Nature are either irregular or fragmented to such an extreme degree that ... classical geometry ... is hardly of any help in describing their form. ... I hope to show that it is possible in many cases to remedy this absence of geometric representation by using a family of shapes I propose to call fractals -- or fractal sets. [Mandelbrot, "Fractals," 1977] available on


Berlant L. et al (2014) //  Sex or the Unbearable//  Duke University Press, US

Fraleigh, S. et al (2006) // HIJIKATA TATSUMI AND OHNO KAZUO // Routledge, London

Gregg, M. et al (2010) // The Affect Theory Reader Duke University Press, US

Mueggler, E (2001) // The Age of Wild Ghosts University of California Press


Book 2                         July 9th – August 6th
  Chapter 5                         Founding(s)

Movement without Doubt


In 2005, signs in the town of Lijiang explained to the visitor, that the local culture1 had ‘unconsciously’ maintained an environmentally responsible way of life.
I was struck how a way of living that was ecologically wide awake, could be presented as backward by a dominant culture2, that had only just woken up to the notion of environmental awareness.

In 2018, during my fourth stay in the area, I am struck by another observation, only this time the view shaped by the dominant culture encounters a self-reflective source.
In his book ‘Songs for Dead Parents’, anthropologist Erik Mueggler shares his deeply engaging and intimate journey of apprehending what is a living body and what is a dead body. The latter, the ‘material effects of processes that actualize prior virtual forms’ (Mueggler. 2017.8) is contrasted with a living body, a body of unlived futures and thus a virtual body. His understanding develops during extended encounters with locals (1993-2012) who acquaint him with funeral rites through various means, from reciting, to enumerating to sharing their pride in ‘this extraordinary body of inherited knowledge’ (2017.9) that makes tangible ‘the relations of labor and suffering’ through sacrifices of animals and rice. Telling stories about world formations: This body of knowledge draws from the story of genesis, in which the earth itself is a body, actualised through the sacrifice3 and butchering of an ox. A deaf-mute makes the earth from the breath, the saliva, the blood, the skin, etc. of the animal. Likewise the site of a funeral makes explicit histories of relations that composed the body of the deceased.

Mueggler shares the difficulty of accepting that one’s instinctual approaches can be an obstacle to understanding and shows how this friction filled correspondence can be generative.

Telling stories about world formations: The Greek god, Zeus, doing woman’s work, wove a marital veil, for his daughter Kore (Persephone), the goddess of the underworld and the dead, who ‘touches that which is’ (Plato in Cratylus). Into the veil, Zeus wove the divisions of the earth, the ocean and the houses of the ocean. By casting the woven cloth over her head, the world became visible. (Leatherbarrow. 1999; 174).

At this point I want to return to Erge’s toast (see Chapter 3, Epilogue), ‘the earth belongs to us’ and my continued struggle to juggle the conflicting histories of relation this moment revealed to me. During the time of Founding the memory of some recent encounters helps this process along:

A short-term visitor to the residency, anthropologist and artist Utza Hazarika, shared her paper, ‘The Earth cannot let go of us’, in which she introduces the words ‚earth-beings’ and ‚earth-practices’ coined by ethnographer Marisol de la Cadena. Words which‚ disavow the separation of Nature and Humanity’(2016.11). These ‚earth beings’ are protagonists defending their survival in the face of threats posed by a politics that subscribes to the division of nature and culture. By contrast, the curatorial role given to the personhood that is the location during the current residency program4, invites the ‚earth being’ to challenge us to encounters with the unthought, to wrestle with limits, to struggle to give rise to new concepts, to dissolve that which relentlessly creates the binary.

A film shown during the week of grounding, "Smoke Signals From The Border" (2011) by Na Yingyu is running adjacent to "Smoke Signals From The Border" (1957) by Lin Nong. The given and the made, the construed and the constructed challenge the dominant discourse through techniques of reversal.

Telling stories: What if all of us were human once, and some of us decided to turn into animals, minerals, things and plants?

Locating the place of one’s handicap5
On the first day of the week of Findings - a day when the glacier is visible - we have an evening of conflicts. A moment, where pasts and futures are at stake; a moment when stories begin to dissect lives; a moment that draws to an end with a revelry.
At the close of the week of Findings, XiaoLi gives birth to ten puppies.

Touching one’s handicap
Telling stories: stories can play truant and run away with themselves; can find themselves at the edge of an abyss. Sometimes stories slip and loose their footing; hands begin to tremble.

Continuing her quest to experience the many things on the farm, she has not experienced before, Lisha -tells a story of findings:
Whilst cutting stencils for the mural, she begun to miss physically challenging work. Watching grandma taking care of the pig, she decides to help her feed it. The floor of the pigsty is dirty and she needs to clean it first. Grandma is the only one who can go inside, who is fearless of the huge pig, who will hit it with a shovel on the nose if need be. Quan Quan points out the blueness of the door leading to the pigsty, asking why it is that colour. Lisha thinks, ‘What the fuck does it matter, this blueness. Art is very distant when shovelling pigshit.’ The hard physical work – ‘to contribute one’s strength’ - gives answers that dissolve problems.
They fill two buckets, the distance between the pigsty and the compost at the entrance of the farm is roughly one hundred steps, the buckets are heavy, Lisha is thinking of asking for help, she decides to take two half- filled buckets instead. Once the work is done, that good feeling encountered when making a place for compost, emerges again. Carrying the pigshit helps Lisha to understand Grandma better. The smell of pigshit does not wash off. Instead it evokes a memory of cleaning the intestines of a butchered pig some years ago with Erge, ‘Intestines are very delicious and they should not be washed too thoroughly.’

Telling stories about histories of relations: We are researching an ancestral technique of reading the Qi of the earth in the kitchen of Ming Zhu’s and Wang Mei’s house. I learn that up until the early part of the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), farmers knew how to read the Qi of the earth. There is a question mark: ‘Did the European astronomical predictions introduced by the Jesuits impact top down approaches to the agricultural calendar?’

Mapping the Affective Landscape during the week of Founding (July 31st – August 6th)

Forms of attending

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During the week of founding, Ernesto sets up a Chinese takeaway in war-torn Nicaragua.

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During the week of founding, the one and only cosmos plant in our compound - rescued at the close of Tabbu from a pile of weeds cast aside and re-planted - lifted its leaves again.

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During the week of founding, tentative thoughts are being shared for an in depth project: a practical poetics that explores the points where agriculture and art converge.

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During the week of founding seeds are laid for a co-operation with Lijiang Library around the theme of ‘A Geography of Waiting’.

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The last day of the week of Founding falls on the 8th day of the 8th lunar month. Driving back in the dark to the studio from the opposite side of the lake, we pass vertical piles of wood set by the roadside. Their tops are alight. It is Huabajie, a three day Yi festival. This ghost festival is celebrated with homemade, man-size torches. On arriving home, we discover first four, then three, then one and then another dead puppy, some with their heads bitten off. Nine out of the litter of ten, Xiaoli gave birth to just a week ago.

During the week of founding, Jixing presents a new short film improvisation with guitar.
Available on rom=android&sharekey=643f5d49d95f849f4ae15e424f8c86f71 // Password: hjx5991xjh

Telling stories: What gives credence to stories? Turned into speech too soon, stories cannot grow. All we have to do now is wait for Jixing’s dream.

Personal Reflection

Once a question has been asked, answers will emerge. Jay’s prompt, ‘What questions are better asked from here than elsewhere?’ draws out the following answer from me: The experience of the sentient body here is that subjectivities are outside, are everywhere and, like deities6, in motion. Reflecting on the work I did after my first two visits to Lijiang Studio in 2005/6, it was this apprehension rather than any understanding that made it possible for me to think about creating work that allowed modes of subjectivities to emerge. Modes that are not based on the industrialised, globalised production of subjectivity but nevertheless in correspondence with them: Recompositions7 of the given and the made, the construed and the constructed.

Does the question: ‘Is it possible to conceive of an organised society to create modes of subjectivity on such other bases; bases of and for contemporary times?’ follow and what would such a pursuit entail?

1 I use the word local culture to describe the community within which we spend our daily life. Jixiang Village is a Naxi Village situated South of Lashihai. We are cocooned in the daily life cycle and emotional intelligence of the family He.

2 I use the term dominant culture to describe the discourse on development, rather than political or national stances.

3 Sacrifice is only possible once sky and earth relate to each other. Sacrifice can be used to bring features of the earth into being. (Mueggler. 2017. 195)

4 The residency opens with the questions: •How does being here, how does the village, landscape, the everyday inform/affect our work? And •What processes does it cure, as in .....solidify, gel, alter with reference to the paper by Lepecki (2017) Decolonising the curatorial.

5 See reference to Butoh in ‘Between Landings and Groundings’.

6 On deities in motion see Hazarika; 2016; 5
7 Guattari in Assemblages (2010, 1:01:38) on the generative friction between the Global North and the Global South


Utsa Hazariki (2016) // The Earth cannot let go of us’ // Ethnos Journal of Anthropology, Routledge UK

Kagis McEwan, I. (1993) // Socrates’ Ancestors // MIT, US

Leatherbarrow in Corner, J. (1999) // Recovering Landscape // Princeton Architectural Press

Andre Lepecki (2017) // Decolonising the curatorial // Duke University Press, US

Melitopoulus, A. et al (2010) // Assemblages // Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp

Plato // Cratylus //

Available online at


Book 3                         August 9th – September 6th
  Chapter 6                        ONE DAY IN A WEEK OF GROUNDING


Dava Wing/ Qingwa/ Frog (US) interdisciplinary artist

He Jixing (China) filmmaker 7811f2

and myself, Petra Johnson (Ger/UK/Shanghai) interdisciplinary artist

were joined by

Peter Hagan (US/Shanghai) writer

Greta Mendez (Trinidad/London) dancer

Wu Jiayu (China) dancer

Courtney Mackedanz (US) movement artist

and Wu Meng (China) theatre and performance artist 1800秒的旅途 2014
链接: // 密码 password: bnhr


Our first week together was accompanied by a question taken from anthropologist Erik Mueggler’s book The Paper Road: ‘How do rules about how we must perceive inflect how we walk and see?’ (Mueggler. 2011.47). Mueggler juxtaposes the activity of surveying the landscape with that of auscultating: a listening to the depth of the landscape, ‘a mode of throwing out lines of communication to its hidden presences’(2011.45). Whilst surveying was done for the purpose of rule, he argues, auscultating is done for the purpose of regulating relations between human and non-human social entities. Frog/Qingwa, who has apprenticed herself to Dongba Hexiudong for several years, tells us that these experiences changed her perceptions of the world. My own experience of accompanying Hexiudong to the mountains and witnessing a 24-hour ritual back in 2006 also had a profound effect on my practice. Only to me it felt as if something that had been stunted was re-validated.

Three stories about rules of perception: 

(1) As a young child, my great-uncle, a freelance butcher, would take me to the surrounding farms, where he would have long consultations with the cow herdsman or the man taking care of the pigs. These men were unusual; caring, yet not at all interested in people and totally oblivious to my existence. When my great-uncle and his often monosyllabic counterpart had finished their to me incomprehensible discussion, they would leave me in the kitchen. Displaying a strained jolliness, the women would fuss over me, serving homemade bread layered with creamy yoghurt and a tangy fruit spread. There was a general feeling that the men had gone off to do something unsettling but necessary, a sadness about something that was going to happen somewhere on the farm and an effort to divert a little girl’s attention from it.

(2) One Sunday, at lunch, when every nook and cranny of the house had resonated with the sound of my father’s favourite opera, my mother cut the meat against the grain and my great-uncle stormed off, refusing to eat it. I was alerted to a subtle difference in taste and a profound difference in perception.

(3) Some years later my great-uncle showed me how he killed a pig. I was already old enough to wonder why there was only he, the full-grown pig and I. There was something clandestine about the situation. I was not sure if I should be there and I never told anyone. I witnessed the sureness of his hands, which kept the pig calm whilst killing it. We made sausages using the skin of the intestines.


It is after breakfast on the first day of the week of grounding, Friday, 17th August, that Greta tells this story (1):
Last night after dinner, when mushrooms foraged that day elicited sounds of delight from us all, we -Xuemei, Frog/Qingwa, Jixing and I with an orange plastic bag of fabric jumped into the car and headed off in search of the local seamstress. On entering the seamstress’ yard in Haidong, we saw children playing and a woman moving in front of a T.V. screen studying a dance sequence.

We had found a dancer but Alas! not a seamstress. Walking back, we passed the local shop. The old sofa and chairs in front of the shop were occupied by our neighbours. I greeted each one of them, in words, in gesture, with a smile, by eye. One of the women, the one who wore a Chinese hat, held a video playing music. I began to dance to the tune and her torso, cocooned in the seat, started to move too. I coaxed her up and we danced together, at times imitating what was shown on the video and at times dancing our dance. Everyone’s attention was edging us on. Seeking a rest, I left what had become a forecourt of joy and explored the back of the shop where I found more neighbours. They were playing mahjong. Xuemai joined them, whilst I became fascinated with the intensity of attention and the speed with which hands moved stones. By the time we walked home our bodies swayed to the rhythms of the breeze and the sounds of the night.

The morning after, Greta and Xuemai with help from Jixing, Wu Meng and Frog/Qingwa continue their search for a seamstress.

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Meantime, walking along Lashihai, Yuyu sees a sprinkling of sunshine on the mountain. By 11am the sky has become overcast. The light coming through in patches reminds her of a theatre stage. Her sense of being here is that people’s relationship with each other and the natural environment is very intimate. This gives her a firm foundation to explore her own affinity to trees. The questions that guide her are ‘What are we willing to see as real’ 我们所看到的都是真实的吗? 还是 你更愿意相信哪部分真实 and ‘How to express the unreal through a simple story?’ 用简单的故事,通过虚构的表达。She identifies four solitary spots: a dead, heavily pruned plum tree; a pile of pine logs; a tree whose crown is partly luscious with leaves and partly dead and an object made of wood. She thinks of them as a cast for a theatre of trees. What body language relates to such a stage?



Greta Telling Stories (2)

At about 1:50pm, when dresses have been fitted, when sacks of mushrooms have been purchased at the market and parcels have been collected, the glacier lifts her veil.

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All afternoon, WuMeng, Xuemei and Grandma clean the mushrooms bought at the market. They share their bad dreams and wonder. ‘How does a bad dream, scary dream, relate to daily life?

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Next to them, He Jixing and He Xingsheng jam a tune or two.

Meantime, Peter is setting off on a 24 hour journey to a wedding in Shanghai and ponders “Grounded” in Lashihai is more like tying a gossamer to the land and unraveling the spool as you wander about, sticking it beneath a rock, to a lake, to the glacier in the fog and the fog and the rain and the mud that dried on the white soles of your city shoes. Grounding is more like building a web, then. And what happens to the web when you leave?

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Courtney writes ‘Yunnan's land is fertile, I'm told. The air here is enveloped by soft-edged peaks of dense green and is the braiding together of more scents than I typically register at once. I walk on the red dirt road to practice absorbing the fragrance in its lush density and in the clarity of its distinct parts. These are the ideas too—at times a swarm and in other moments a stream. The ether here is a space of abundance, somehow vast and quiet while simultaneously cradling such rich entanglements.’
An undertaking, which returns us to Jay’s prompt: ‘What questions are better asked from here than elsewhere?’


Wu Meng addresses the question that opens the week of grounding, ‘How do perceptions inscribed on paper become interleaved with the substance of the earth, to inflect other perceptions?’ and asks, ‘How can I bring my perceptions to the stage rather than to paper? How can I track my walks? Are memories and feelings reliable?’

‘Leaving techniques aside, how can I use and trust my body?’
‘How can a walk be recorded without the use of technology?’
‘How can the body communicate the way a Chinese calligraphy brush does?

Frog/Qingwa observes, that whilst the pen can stop writing, that is it can stop being a pen, the body is continuous whilst on stage. And Greta adds, that body memory comes out through the dance. We continue to pursue the question ‘How does ‘it’ come out?’ in the context of what are the rules that guide our perception and how to communicate these on stage? Wu Meng describes the previous’ day experience of having been on a mountain immersed in foraging for mushrooms and the subsequent looking at the mountain on the way home, the being in and the looking at. How can she ‘play’ with these experiences? Repetition, explains Frog/Qingwa, leads to solids in the next dimension. She gives the example of the zero dimension (0-d), where the repetition of the dot leads to the line (1-d); the repetition of the line in turn leads to the plane (2-d) and the repetition of planes leads to solids (3-d).1 Therefore heartbeat, walking, chanting, all manifest in a further dimension that we can’t perceive. ‘We are literally, not poetically, transcending the third dimension.’ As we create content for this dimension, we become the shadow of it. When looking at repetition from this perspective, then either form of repetition, irrespective if it is for the benefit of consumption or an act of religion, is a form of worship.

Frog/Qingwa describes shamanic techniques used in Mongolia: the calling of an ancestor (who wants to be called) with an ever-faster beat of the drum. The ancestor ‘crashes’ into the body of the shaman and will be sent off again with the beat of drums. The shamans have no recollection of having hosted an ancestor. They remember having been in a field. Conversely we are the ancestors of the future.

Greta describes how through techniques of breathing and directing the circulation of oxygen through her body, she can activate muscle memory. A technique, she teaches her students who as future actors need to be seen to be connected to the role they are playing. Frog/Qingwa points out that whilst our bodies are capable of a lot of powers, our powers are also limited by what other people believe we have. Part of the ecosystem is that other people can be disempowering. ‘Maybe we can only access, what wants to speak through us’?

Contrasting being in a subway with walking, Wu Meng argues that whilst the environment on a subway restricts and homogenises movement, people’s thoughts are diverse. Foxconn, a factory in Shenzhen that makes I-pads, employed 300.000 to 400.000 workers during peak time. These devices contain not just the energy of the soul of the people who make them but also of the environments that get killed in order to mine the metals and minerals. The artist Li Liao (2013) worked in one of these factories as an inspector of circuit boards in order to demonstrate the disconnect between worker and product to an art audience. He needed to work for 45 days in order to earn enough money to buy one I-pad.2

Jixing shares a recent experience that shifted his approach to filming. When up until then his focus has been on what is happening on the screen, now his focus is on how to show the energy of that which is happening outside the screen. In response, Greta introduces the term ‘displace diagetics’ – when the sound from one place is added to another place.

The term evokes Joseph Rock3 playing Operas4 on his gramophone to the public in various locations in Yunnan.

1 See also Flatland (1884) by Edwin A. Abbott

3 Botanist and Explorer and one of the main characters in Mueggler’s book ‘The Paper Road’.
4 Operas came about during the 2nd half of the sixteenth century, because of a revived interest in the role of the Greek Chorus. Monteverdi, who wrote the first opera L’Orfeo, excelled at producing ‘a vocal style that is at first merely like dry declamation and only on repeated hearings begins to assume an extraordinary eloquence’.4 An Opera places words and emotions in the foreground. It’s characters live, breathe, love and hate and the music is an integral part of the work rather than decoration.


Book 3                         August 9th – September 6th
  Chapter 7                        ACTS OF FOUNDING

At the close of the week of Founding, I gather the ‘somethings’ found by this month’s resident artists:

Greta Mendez; Peter Hagan; Petra Johnson; He Jixing; Dava Wing/Qingwa/Frog; Wu Jiayu; Courtney Mackedanz, Wu Meng, He Xuemei and He Xiudong:

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Originally, …… a gathering of people, and a place where they would meet to resolve their affairs’ was described as a thing (Ingold, 2007; 5). Can any of the ‘things’ found: things that belong to this place as they contribute to its existence, synthesize into a transformed construction of site to the same extent that they contribute to changes in the trajectories of those who gathered here? Founding is always a reaction to something already there; it frames some new point of view. This essay speculates on as it describes how a gathering of artists can become an intensity, a ‘we’ of sorts. 

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Saturday, 11th August 2018: Qilin Dance performance

Within hours of her arrival, Wu Jiayu encounters the movements she had studied at the department for folk dance at Xinghai Conservatory of Music some years ago and, for the first time in her life, she sees these movements in their context. This ‘quivering of a trajectory’ leads to the filming of seven short stories about movements: circling movements; relational movements; reflected movements; humorous movements. Films in which, in her own words, she found herself. 

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Like the multifaceted being it celebrates, the Qilin Dance performance acted as a catalyst for the rest of us too. On one level, the rehearsals for the dance at Lijiang Studio facilitated encounters between artists and local performers, mostly children and teenagers: a warming up to each other. An afternoon that gave both newcomer and local the promise of encounters with a familiar face on future walks through the village.

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For Courtney, the social aspect of the Qilin performance led to a trip into the mountains with a local Matsutake mushroom dealer. Apart from that, findings of a stick, a stone, some moss and a leaf led to a surprising change in her working methods, with slowness and an emphasis on non-verbal language taking centre stage.

For Qingwa/Frog, who is also a performer in the dance - she dances the crane, a parallel being to earthbound deer - the event sparks of a new project: 

a book of illustrations with instructions and guidelines on how to make a Qilin Dance.

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In my own work too, which this year had focussed on plants and by extension on movement without doubt, a change occurred. Animals re-entered my explorations of affective energies, in this instance: waiting. ‘My every step as I pace to and fro at the bus stop finds itself faithfully re-enacted albeit with a delay by XiaoLi, the dog. As a consequence, the slightest movement made in my ‘now’ stretches to include her now and the anticipated now of a passing vehicle. This pas de deux takes away the buoyancy with which I usually while away waiting time: the dance between the fluttering of my skirt and its shadow caused by abrupt movements.’ 

When asked about his relationship to the Qilin Dance, He Jixing who together with Jay Brown, He Erge and He Wenzhao had organised the performance at the official opening of He Wenzhao’s studio in Ciman Village on the opposite side of Lahihai, replied, ‘My role is Qilin Fan’: Fan standing for both food (Chinese) and dedication (English).

Wu Meng had opened the last shared studio session with the question ‘How do I record my walking route without using technology? If botanists move the earth to paper through writing, drawing and photography, how does the performer move the earth onto the stage? How do I record my body? ’  In this context, Frog/Qingwa’s response in form of an exposition of the four-dimensional world acts as a catalyst for a new question, ‘What influences the relationship between the shadow (us) and the manifestation of our heartbeat, our walking, our chanting in a four-dimensional world? Do rhythm and cadence act the way light does in casting shadows?’ 

Back in Shanghai, my grandson and I negotiate a large puddle. As we wait next to it for the traffic light to turn green, the puddle draws my attention. Across it’s surface floats the upper half of a nearby skyscraper. I search for the solid, the repetition of planes, the three-dimensional body whose reflection lies at my feet and marvel at the ingenuity and persistence of all those inquisitive people that had noted this phenomenon and eventually – by sharing their questions, their skills and their knowledge across time - succeeded in making mirrors.  

Founding as a synthesis of what happened before

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The previous residency had ended 

with the sudden death of nine puppies. 

Taking on board the sense of a recent tragedy but refusing to hear any of the details, Greta drew on the skills of He Xiudong, Frog/ Qingwa, WuMeng, He Jixing and evoked the uncanny of that night with her interpretation of unrequited loss of life on a local as well as a global scale.

In response to the prompt: ‘What questions are better asked from here than elsewhere?’

Peter contributed a new set of questions that could only emerge here and did so in a text I do not wish to summarise, so I invite you to read the attached pdf.

Founding as a staking out of ground for future events

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 In my continuing work with the plant world, the last week of the residency saw the harvesting of beans for seed rather than consumption. And whilst I had been reluctant to acknowledge the beginning of autumn through smells, textures and colours; the rattle made by the bean pods as I took them off their stalks gave me a thrill.

In this context, the question Greta had raised on the day of her arrival, ’What if we treat every encounter with change, with the unfamiliar, the new, the other, the ungraspable, the invisible as a celebration?’ provides an answer. As in the Qilin dance, by re-affirming delicacy, tenderness as well as voluptuousness, the art of pleasure is re-appropriated from other, commoditised futures. Pleasure: thoughtfulness; a sense of an argument reaching back in time; a dipping of toes into the uncanny.

In such a world, you might have an intense conversation about frogs over lunch; in such a world inquisitiveness allows for some form of contact and unexpected glimpses of recognition. 

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3 unrequited is usually used to describe love that cannot be returned, here I use it in the context of deaths/loss that cannot be grieved.

4 On the tail of the human/animal hybrid are written the names of tribes that have become extinct in recent times. The images are taken from raw footage for a film that will be edited in the near future.


Ingold, T. (2007) Lines Routledge, London


Book 4                         September 30th – October 28th
  Chapter 9                       AT THE CLOSE OF THE WEEK OF GROUNDING

On the 30th September, the artists/scholars

Witold van Ratingen (Utrecht/NL) psychogeographer (under construction)

Kartika Mediani (Indonesia/UK) animation artist

Shuyin Wu (Canada/China) architect (website is under construction)

joined long-term resident artists/scholars

Dava Wing/Qingwa/Frog (US) interdisciplinary artist

He Jixing (China) filmmaker


Zhuming (ZhengShen Village) visiting scholar

and myself, Petra Johnson (Ger/UK/Shanghai) interdisciplinary artist

A few days before the end of the week of Grounding we are joined by

Adrian Tyus (US/Shanghai) filmmaker

Landings and Groundings

Within days of Witold’s, Shuyin’s and Tika’s arrival, a hype of activity ensues as if the abundance of peaches and apples, of chillies and sweet corn, of papaya and pears around us had thrown a gauntlet: ’Show us what you can do.’ And like the fruit and vegetable, we understood that whatever it is we can do, it will only do justice to the spirit of growth and emergence around us, if we pool our skills. Amongst the material gifts brought were many types of chocolates (someone had read previous entries on this website!) and a multitude of books which not only gave us plenty of food for thought but also inspiration for jointly putting together a book-in-formation. A book, that illustrates our attempts at recording an emergence of that which hovers in between surveying and auscultation. The book stages an encounter between psychogeography and a range of visual skills, from filming to drawing. The latter in particular distinguish themselves in that one has been honed to capture the movement and gestures of bodies; the other communicates the not yet built environment and the third the invisible world of amongst others, good and bad demons.

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Finally, the patience of the Chinese paper lining the wall since May has been rewarded. It has become a platform for discussions, a recording of late night speculations and solitary daytime observations.

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Whilst we are exploring which aspect of the locality either of us would highlight in the book, plans by the ‘Stalking Tao in Jixiang Village’ group, a long-term collaboration that had emerged in the interim between residencies, took on shape. The ‘Stalking Tao in Jixiang Village’ group is open to artists, farmers and scholars who are interested in exploring points of convergence between art and agriculture, a topic first raised by Li Lisha during her residency in July. By the end of July, Zhuming, Jixing and I had begun to research the feasibility of building a Qi Installation. The Qi Installation is based on an ancient technology used in Chinese agriculture that tells farmers when the soil on their farm is ready for sowing.

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Shuyin dedicated her architectural skills to the installation as soon as she arrived.

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...Qilin Master MuCongpei joined us to choose a site for a small version of the full-scale model behind the kitchen area, where the view across the valley is unobstructed.

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Simultaneously, preparations for Qingwa’s solo show: Road to Heaven No 3 at Lijiang Library proceed at a pace.

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During the week of grounding, piles of freshly cut wood begin to appear outside the farm compounds in the valley. Each pile evokes the prospect of huddling around a fire, of stories being told, of gazing at flames flickering or just bathing with others in their warmth. Sensations, the opening of the exhibition ’Road to Heaven No 3’ also manages to host and which are best told in pictures.

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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)