Exerpts from a BASE project journal.
After the climbing and weaving of a blurred, sleepy eyed bus drive, amidst the coming green and blue skies, lost in the smog of Beijing, and found again in the heights of the countryside, passing stubborn corners and elephantine chestnuts, and through the wind colored red with fabric we arrive among the trees to find a hidden market on the forest floor.
We carried on to 'Village 2,' caterpillering by the Township Village and higher into the valley. A kind of editing occurred the higher we traveled, the disappearing of any kind of shop, signage or denotation of a town or public life. Once in Village 2 a sudden stillness seemed to fall, and as if the mountains were wall to any other activity, any noise, any disturbance.
We make our way deeper into the village past the gated bathhouse and municipal building and peeling walls, and find a smaller intersection where a small ledge sits against a backside of a house and some residents rest. All the houses face inwards, and let their blank, windowless walls wrap the streets. this inward living characterizes the entire village, and yet this becomes blurred slightly by the thresholds into each inward facing compound, where color and movement and the opening of a door also imply a sort of shared, open mentality; as if each compound is a private room in a large shared house.
Back in the central courtyard we meet Mr. Li coming in from the fields. He carries a large stick and wears the typical farmers hat. His greeting is warm. I speak with him (with a translator) about the town, his family, and the space we stood in. He explained how the cold made it difficult to create any outdoor public areas, and there were no festivals or events in the village, just the occasional card game, or even movie. He stayed near all of us the rest of the day, and I think the influx of people and energy drew him and others to remain.
We departed and crept back into the switchback roads through ghosted mountains, as the smoke began to build from the villagers' stoves.