Two.5 were invited to China in November-December 2014 for a residency in a Naxi farming village in Lijiang county, Yunnan province. During the residency we wove together found artefacts, images of the landscape, portraiture and biographical accounts to create a texturally rich record of the place in the time that we were there.
Download our digital artists book (iPad only): Recollections: 12 vignettes from Lashihai
Order a limited edition bilingual (Chinese/English) printed version of the book: Recollections: 12 vignettes from Lashihai
Flying separately from our homes in the UK and USA, we met at Kunming airport on a cold, dark evening in November 2014 and spent the following three weeks as the guests of the Lijiang Studio in Lashihai, Yunnan Province, China. During our time in residence, we visited members of the local farming community at their homes, caught shuttle buses in to Old Lijiang city, drove up into up the mountains to stay with a Dongba Shaman from the Research Institute, cycled to neighbouring villages for supper with local artists. Everywhere we went we observed the life around us and interviewed the people we met. We gathered increasingly huge amounts of data in the form of photographs, written notes and impactful memories.
As we didn’t speak Mandarin, our interviews were conducted with the help of Frog Wing, the Taiwanese-American artist facilitating the Vesica Piscis session at Lijiang Studio. She travelled with us the majority of the time, effecting introductions and asking our questions for us. By her own admission, Frog’s Mandarin was not completely fluent and many of our interviewees spoke with thick accents, or only spoke Naxi or other ethnic minority languages. Our background knowledge of the local cultures was likewise limited when we arrived. As a result, our conversations filtered through many levels of translation. After many discussions about authenticity and representation, we have approached this non-fiction collection with the greatest possible fidelity given the conditions. Any factual errors are entirely our own and entirely unintended.
When we arrived, our intention was to draw upon the form of the Commonplace Book — a traditional 17th Century British way of compiling knowledge in different forms and from different sources — to create a portrait of the place representative of the time we spent there. We came with a creative intent and our materials were sifted, selected and represented as such.
The residency resulted in over four thousand digital photographs and over forty thousand words transcribed from handwritten notebooks. We worked separately to refine and consider our perspectives, then came together for an intensive fortnight in the UK in April 2015. During this time together Viccy drafted twelve pieces of creative nonfiction and Samantha teased out twelve photo triptychs to be paired and presented as a reflection of our experiences in residence at Lijiang Studio.
The final version of our digital artists book, Recollections, brings together 12 vignettes from our time in Lashihai, creating a portrait of a time and a place seen through our eyes. Originally published in English in June 2015 as a free-to-download webapp for iPad, Lijiang Studio sponsored a Chinese translation and a limited edition bilingual printed version, which was published in the United States in Spring 2016.
The digital version was shortlisted for the 2015 New Media Writing Prize and won The People’s Choice Award.