* CHINESE CHAPTERS (since 2013)

Short Flashes

Swallow part 1: recognition

Swallow part 2: ceremony

Swallow part 3: awaiting

We used to keep dead lotus leaves to hear the rain


Here live only sparrows

The Chinese Chapters are visual notes about China, built with shreds, pieces of ceramics and casual talks.

The contradictions are inscribed in the present image of China: the most modern country and the longest tradition; uprooted from its past, with priority to look into the future, in a big dream of prosperity. Nobody remembers the painful time of history, the knowledge is hidden deep in common consciousness, invisible under the modern plastic shell.

I go through the life path of my friend Cōng Yàn, with her guidance. I explore places behind the highways, away from the crowd, I observe dimmed traditions, social rules at the age of overwhelming economic growth.

Swallow: Recognition, Ceremony and Awaiting series are depicting the life events of Cōng Yàn, who is entering into new roles, becoming a wife and a mother. Well educated and reasonable she is facing the superstitions and the settled rules of the village. The Swallow series are accompanied by multiple texts and quotes.

Steps series is based on the shoe patterns we found with Cōng Yàn in her family house. They were cut out from out-dated newspapers from 50’s to 90’s. Randomly chosen pages, shreds of articles, unfinished sentences and pieces of forgotten slogans are telling a fragmented history of China.

We used to keep dead lotus leaves to hear the rain is the poetic image of the village where the past is melting away with old humid photographs. The Chinese painting-like village, with the monastery at the top of the mountain, the ancient graves in the bamboo forest and a stream flowing down the hill to land into the lotus muddy ponds, is a universe itself, ruled by the repetitive routine of days. The cycle could be endless, the village eternal, but it is about to disappear, replaced by new constructions.
The title We used to keep dead lotus leaves to hear the rain comes from the poem of Li Shangyin, from Tang Dynasty. His style might be described as being suspended, being in-between, keeping melancholy of the past, but reconciled with changes. Photography is seen as the medicine for dying and the one who is pictured will live forever. The photographs found in the village are disappearing because of the devastating humidity: faces are blurring, identities are mixing into colorful smudges and provoking a slow agony of images.

Here live only sparrows portrays deserted villages during demolition. In these ghost towns, where inhabitants have abandoned their houses, the mix of rubbles and left belongings will serve as a foundation for the new constructions.
But, before all the walls will collapse, sparrows are building their nests in every hole.

Short Flashes is the first series I accomplished in China, the first impression about the city, covered by rain and colourfully filled by cyclists dressed in raincoats. I wanted to stop them to memorize the expressions on their faces, different emotions, tiredness, forms of colourful shiny coats moved by the wind, body reactions to the bad weather and the heavy rain. So I started pulling out individualities from the mass to keep them in my mind. Each year in China, thousands of people migrate to the big cities looking for jobs, coming from small villages, mountains, river valleys, territories of forgotten minorities... I was documenting soaked faces of riders: workers, servants, cooks, shop assistants, mechanics, craftsmen, carriers, parents, children, students, for which each day ride on bikes and scooters is the only way to reach their destinations. One flash can freeze the moment - one moment of presence.

The Chinese Chapters contain mixed materials: snapshot-like images, documentary photography, texts, collection of archived materials and collected objects, installations with water provoking the destruction of images.
Photographs are printed on Chinese traditional calligraphy papers, juxtaposed with modern plastic images.