(Written by Marlies)
The numbers are growing. The re-used-plastic-tree-like objects are filling the studio floor. Ella and I developed a pattern in the food we eat, and this reflects a little bit in the colors of the installation. Though it is not that obvious yet, so I am curious what it will look like in the end. Creating the installation is a process. Not only in a conceptual way, but also literally. There are a few steps that repeat themselves: cutting, forming, wrapping, more wrapping, cleaning plastic, collecting stones, cleaning stones, glueing stones and then all over again. And although it sounds boring, it is far from that. Every day I start the process happily again, just to see the installation getting more and more complete. And each tree-like object that I make is different from the others. In our daily rhythm there are also some repeating elements. Because you can’t drink the water from the tap, we have to get water from the store several times a week and every time we want to use ‘normal’ water we have to boil it. I have to remind myself twice a day that the act of brushing my teeth does not include water from the tap. Years of routine are not easily stopped, now it seems. So most of the time brushing teeth is an exercise with a lot of walking to get the stuff I forgot to take with me to the bathroom. ‘Not throwing away plastic’ on the other hand takes no trouble at all to get used to, so that’s gonna be a challenge when we get back home.
And then there is the collecting of the stones. I use stones I find at the side of the road. To find them you don’t need to go far, stones are everywhere. They reflect the surroundings of our ‘home’. Some stones are more like rocks, the ones you could find in nature areas, but you also find parts of bricks or concrete. It’s the same with this city. When we look out of our window there are beautiful hills covered with trees, but if you look the other way there is this big city and thousands of buildings. The first time I started to collect the stones it was a bit weird. Because we stand out in the main population by our looks, people are already looking at us. When you get of the road to collect random stones, you are stared at. It is also not the most clean place (that is why the ‘washing of the stones’ keeps coming back), so I can’t imagine what they must be thinking.
Meanwhile the opening day is getting closer. The date, time and room are confirmed. It will be the 3th of November, at 3 PM in room number 3. Just to make it easy not to forget. Yesterday I did a small photo shoot to get some photo’s for the invitation and finished the text about my works.
It is so nice to have Ella around, she is a great help with the finishing touch of the text. And every time we came up with just the right word, we could not help being sorry for Vivian when she has to translate it. Today we went to the Dalian Art College and Li Qi Long, who was showing us around, told us that for translating in art there are 3 difficult areas: artist names, specialist terms and poetry. While we had lunch together it struck me that it is a strange way to communicate when you communicate through someone else. There is a lot of words, feelings and sudden inspiration getting lost. On the other hand it also presents a new dimension in a conversation. First you listen to the conversation without understanding, the facial expression and way of talking is getting more important. Afterwards you combine the translation with the expressions from before. Although it is unpractical, it has its own interesting side.
During the process of creating my installation and preparing for the exhibition we keep visiting different places in Dalian. Besides visiting the Dalian Art College today, Cheng Liang and Vivian took us to a Taoist temple on the ‘Big Black Mountain’. Just out of the city there was this old colorful peaceful place. Because it is out of season, we were the only visitors there, I praise myself lucky to have been to this place without tourists. The whole temple breathed peacefulness, several brightly colored wooden temple buildings were surrounded by trees, almost (except for the fire extinguishers and electric wires) as if you stepped back in time. I keep being surprised by the colors of Dalian. At first when you look around it seems like a grey city, but if you look closer everywhere are colors popping up.