A new place begins as a confusion of images and blurred spaces. With each new exploration into this unknown, the tourist learns where things are and begins to identify landmarks. This creates a tentative feeling of belonging as the unknown slowly transforms into the known. As as a tourist however the places we visit lack the weight of reality because we only know it from the outside.
Wandering around Fei Jia Cun is an overwhelming sensory experience and one that is sometimes challenging, but after a week in the village, my initial culture shock transformed into fascination. I realised that the village had a unique sense of place, and was full of character, of life lived on the street and of strong community. If Place can be seen as a space of ‘pause’ then Fei Jia Cun village certainly seemed to be on ‘pause’, particularly compared to what I saw in the rest of Beijing.
I was in Beijing for two months on an artist residency at Red Gate.