For the last 4 months, I have been in a preparation swirl.  As my departure date creeps closer, the swirl becomes tighter and more furious.  It’s not any one thing; it’s everything.  A 10-month research trip, in comparison to my other projects, is eclipsing.

But this is where I often thrive; a convergence of big things that I must wrestle into a comprehendible, edible size.

As much as I plan, I must also remember that this is China.  Nothing is a guarantee and to assume so would be sheer folly.  So how do I frame this year?

By the following two thoughts:

  • People. People are the apex of this year.  The nature of both shadow puppetry and myself trends away from book study and into the field.  To hear, see, and learn directly from the hands of the masters and scholars.
  • Places. Traditionally, a shadow puppet troupe’s radius of travel was/is small – any particular region’s characteristics are distinct.   I believe that the more singular places I see this form practiced will inform the entirety of its existence.

By keeping these priorities in place, I think my work will find continuity.  I am choosing to worry less about the end product and more about the experience of people and places.

The blog will feature Profiles of each of the people I meet.  There will be scholars, puppet masters, singers, musicians, puppet makers, puppet distributors, leather makers, and audience members.  I will also be including my personal discoveries through photo and video.  Writing is not where I traditionally find expression – but I’m going to resist the urge to rely solely on visual material and put my thoughts to paper when I am able.

Thanks for reading~

Zai Jian


One response to “FRAMING the UNKNOWN

  1. Augh! I miss you already! But thanks for posting the link to your blog… I’ll be sure to check in on the regular to get my Annie fix. Much love and safe travels to you, my dear…

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