July 13, 2008 Lijiang Studios Open House: About Living with Nature-
Where does nature begin and end?
Katalog arrived on June 12, a day after the Olympic Torch came through Lijiang Old City. This was a big deal for the city and very symbolic as two young earthquake survivors, one from Sichuan and one born during the 1996 7.0 quake in Lijiang were torchbearers. Just a day before that, there was a hailstorm in Lashihai Valley, above Lijiang City, which shredded many of the young crops.
As we drove in, we could see that the fields had been macerated. The He family apple orchard was torn to ribbons. Hailstorms are not unusual for early June at this altitude, but these plum sized ice pellets were exceptionally large. China has done a lot of research in weather modification; one result of which is their ability to minimize hail damage by shooting into the preciptating clouds with anti-aircraft artillery. This is done by local farmers in the affected regions, whose job it is to maintain cannon on their properties for use in inclement weather. Around Lashi Lake this spring, they saw the devastating hail coming, but air traffic control out of Lijiang City did not give clearance to the cannon operators to shoot up the clouds.
Lashihai is a very abundant agricultural area, where many diverse crops are grown for both home and market, nevertheless, hail can be really bad for the crops this late in the year. Katalog was led to understand both how fragile and how dependent upon technology the farming economy really is. The economic damage was so severe that farmers sought compensation from the government, which quickly gave out 6 months supply of rice per household member. We set out to interview people about the hailstorm with the intention of playing these interviews back to people in the community, in order to expand the story.
Katalog is gathering anecdotes about the hail. |
Our first open house at Lijiang Studio focused on this incident as a way to open discussions about the relationships between the environment, human needs and technology. Videos of interviews with farmers around the area were shown.
"Where does nature begin and end? Living with nature in the past and the present are already different.
What will living with nature mean in the future?"
Telling the story of the hail (bingbao) with toads.
invititation to event
Globally, climate changes are bringing increasing incidents of untimely extreme weather. While this hailstorm was in a normal range, other areas of the country and the world were being visited with extreme floods, fires, and outside Beijing, locusts and immense algae blooms, all reminiscent of the apocryphal plagues of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Rains of toads, etc, indicating gross imbalance. In Naxi mythological stories, a toad, dissected into eight parts is the symbolic representation of the Book of Changes, a cosmological system for understanding Gaian phenomena. There are a lot of toads here. Not everybody likes them but they are harmless, and they eat crop pests, although most farmers rely on pesticides instead.
Toads became a faltering way to talk about the ideas in these old mythologies and their remnant relevance against the reality of human market relations. We offered to purchase toads for a movie shoot re-enacting the hail.
|Payment for Ecological Services?||We offered 1 RMB for every 10 toads. Katalog is still reeling. We received over 500 toads.|
Bingbao Ice Cream making for children
In a strange echo of the hail cannon not being deployed
this time, our sign at the road was censored at the
request of the police to protect a visiting official
from something they couldn't understand. We have applied
to the "Ministry of Poetry" for compensation.
Taking down our sign
In a strange echo of the hail cannon not being deployed this time, our sign at the road was censored at the request of the police to protect a visiting official from something they couldn't understand. We have applied to the "Ministry of Poetry" for compensation.