Behind every great man there's a great woman
I introduce you to Bai,
Wake’s unofficial agent. I have had some interesting email exchanges with Bai, which give so much insight into rural life in China. In fact, it is Bai who translates everything between Wake and myself, and so I decided to introduce her, and finish my work on Wake next week.
Bai also reminds me very much of myself when I met Stanley Lewis the Montreal artist, who went on to not only become a dear friend but also a man who influenced me, and still does. He taught me, encouraged me, inspired me. He was paramount in my learning.
As his friend, Ryan Larkin, the Montreal animator said:
He is my friend,
he is my mentor,
he taught me,
cha, cha, cha,
what art was meant for!
Bai was in her late teens
when she met Wake during the filming of Dream Walking, which won the Grand Prix at the Cinéma du Réel in 2006. It is filmed in part at her adoptive family’s home, as Wake is a friend of the family. She kept in touch with him during her days at university as he represented ‘that other art,’ which is hard to view in China.
For the past few years they have shared a home, however, Bai is typical of many Chinese women, as marriage and children are not primary; study, learning and personal freedom interest her more at this point in her life.
Both Bai and Wake move around a lot, between their home provinces, Wake for art, Bai for studies, both fiercely independent, yet soul-friend-mates. It is a win-win situation. They learn from each other, bounce off each others ideas …
Bai helps order Wake’s hundreds of books, paintings, and ledgers of writings. She subtitles and promotes his films and administers his website. On the side she learns German; she speaks it very well, while her English is better than my Chinese will ever be.
Hello, my dear friend,
I'm sorry it took so long to reply to your email. Wake and I are not at home in the northeast now. We went to Shandong together, he accompanied me to take an exam, and then I am now in a village in my hometown, Henan Province.
Wake went to Sichuan alone to shoot a film. He likes ruins very much. A friend of Wake told him that there were many abandoned factories over there, so he went. The ruins are abandoned buildings. They have a sense of staleness cut apart by time and full of loneliness. The ruins lost their aura at the time and gradually declined. It has a unique and illusory atmosphere. Wake is obsessed with this decadent poetry. He always says it is a "significant form" (Clive Bell).
When he arrived there, he found that it was different from what he had imagined. But he met good friends whom he hadn't seen for a long time. Wake should be back soon, I think.
After receiving your email,
I used VPN to read your last article. Thank you. I sent a screenshot to Wake and he was very happy too.
At the beginning you put a map to mark the two locations of Jiayuguan and Jinan, and clearly write down the distance between the two places. It's so meticulous.
Thank you for bringing Wake's work "THE CRACK" to more people, and thank you for your friends' comments. Wake is very happy that more people see it, and he feels that everything he has done is worthwhile.
There were a lot of difficulties during the filming of "THE CRACK", not many people were able to watch it after the filming was completed, and it was only 20 years later that the film was restored to a digital version. (And finally screened in the UK, Manchester University, thanks to ChinaIndieFilm).
In the past two decades, Wake has moved many times, but he has never lost any of those dozens of heavy films 35mm reels! He said it was his ‘child’. Even if THE CRACK becomes a 'dead child', it is seen by people, and Wake will not lose it. Sometimes I am very touched by Wake's persistence on art. I think he is still that boy, as sang in a song called "Youth":
I'm still the boy before
Time is just a test
The faith in the heart has not diminished …
It's wheat harvest season in my hometown now
What's not so good is that it rains these two days. It's early morning on my side, and I'm lying in bed, listening to the sound of frogs and birds. The rooster in my family has begun to crow to urge people to get up. There is a wind in the yard, blowing on the body is very comfortable, it is a gentle summer breeze. This kind of coolness is completely different from the coolness of the northeast.
This time I went home and took only one photo, which was taken when I was about 200 meters away from home. Behind the small bamboo forest is my home.
There are also two videos: One was shot on the road leading to the village. The building at the end of the video is the elementary school in our village. I also went to the elementary school in this school. Another video is of the moon in the sky, blowing in the wind, taken in the yard of the house at night.
There are also two photos taken a few years ago. My cat kept staring at the scraped meat on the wall. There was also a picture of the yard in the sunset. Both of these were taken in winter.
Such a village may be different from what you think. Because of the government's extraction of oil (crude oil, the fuel for the car is extracted and refined from this crude oil.) Here, many things have been destroyed and the water has been polluted. When I was young, every family had a well in the yard. The water in it can be directly drunk. Now every household uses tap water, but the water needs to be filtered before drinking, and the air is also polluted. The rice and wheat grown by peasants do not taste the same as before, due to the use of a large amount of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Many houses in the village are empty, and there are more elderly people in the village. Some vacant yards are full of grass, trees and so on. It would be nice if I took more photos to show you. I had already left the village when I received your message.
Today is a special day! Wish us Happy "BIG CHILDREN'S" Day!
Love you always,
Next week I will finish with Wake’s painting and performance art.
I now have a copy of National Anthem which I will put up for Wake onto YouTube - his film which won a special mention at the Canadian International short film festival in 2018.
If you enjoy, please share, send some comments, and BE WELL.