“Rooftop” ◎ Chu ChunTeng
Throughout the history of China, Yunnan’s Tengchong sits on the rich natural resource from Mt. Gaoligong and has witnessed the Battle of Northern Burma and Western Yunnan; moreover, the city is most known for its production of jadeite and the practice of stone gambling, which refers to betting on the value of raw jadeite stones because it is impossible to determine a jadeite stone’s worth before it is cut open and polished.
Jadeite has always been an important cultural symbol in Chinese culture. However, since China does not have any jadeite mines, the country relies on importing the precious stone from Burma, rendering Tengchong a crucial geographical gateway for jadeite import, export as well as jadeite processing businesses in China and giving birth to the local culture of stone gambling.
In April 2018, I arrived at this border city close to the boundary between China and Burma, and my first impression of it was its innumerous stone processing factories and jadeite products found everywhere in the city. A seemingly ordinary stone can be processed and turned into a precious, valuable piece of jadeite jewelry. The frenzy demonstrated by the locals and tourists towards the raw jadeite stones made me wonder about the significance and meaning of a stone.
One of the most eye-catching event for me in Tengchong was that thousands of people would gather at a certain site to dig jadeite in the city’s historic town. In the past few years, urban renewal plans have been carried out in the historic town of the city; and whenever an old building was torn down, thousands of people would come afterwards and hope to find some of the leftover jadeite thrown away and buried at the site since the Ming and Qing dynasties. The incessant hammering created countless deep holes on the ground, in which hundreds of people would still be digging inside. It was a surreal scene reminiscent of an archaeological site. I could not help but wondering what motivated these people to dig as if all their future hopes relied on this never-ending action.
The organizer of this artist residency is the largest real estate developer in Yunnan, and the residency venue locates in its latest development project covering the land of sixty four thousand hectares. Upon arrival at the venue, my entire body was conquered by the comfortable atmosphere that this neighborhood of villas was immersed in.
Nevertheless, as my stay unfolded, a sense of unrealness and detachment grew stronger and stronger. It was until one day that I encountered the cleaning lady whose job was to clean the display house that this feeling vanished. The cleaning lady’s job was to keep everything immaculate, and therefore, no one knew the display in the house better than her. However, she was not allowed to sit or leave any traces of her existence in the house. This encounter immediately pulled me back into reality. I had been living in a dream-like world constructed and maintained by others. Each day of her life started with routine cleaning of every corner of the house, but in a way, she was simply a passenger trapped inside of the model home.
My three-week stay in Tengchong put me through a journey of traversing through a parallel universe charged with desires. Whenever I was amazed by the locals’ heartwarming friendliness and the scenic nature, I was also torn by the unignorable conflicts and contradictions between reality and future, which pushed me into a vortex similar to the life of the jadeite miners who have been stuck in a cycle of digging, waiting and digging again.
「 天台」 ◎朱駿騰
彼時駐村主辦方正是雲南當地最大的開發商，而駐地就位在高黎貢山腳下佔地 64 萬頃的新開發建案之中。從第一天抵達，我的身體感就完全被別墅社區所營造出的舒適氛圍所征服。然而隨著居住的時間越長，不真實與疏離的感覺越來越強烈，直到一天早上，我看見每天都例行打掃樣品屋的阿姨：她的工作就是讓一切維持一塵不染，沒有人比她更熟悉屋裡的陳設；但她不被允許坐下，也不能在屋裡留下任何個人痕跡。朱駿騰開始有了真實感。這是一個被眾人建構與維持出來的夢。她的每一天在各角落的例行打掃中展開，卻像是被困在屋裡的過客。
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