Tying Knots

Ruijia Fan

Knotting is an ancient way of transmitting information, which was once a very effective way of recording events and exchange information before people learned to use language and words. The project aims to documents a series of stories about the island's indigenous people, especially the fishermen, and their connection to their homeland. As a reporter and bystander, I will learn about their unique memories of personal, family or community life and their feelings for their hometown by observing their lives and interviewing and sharing a dialogue with them. To explore the local people's identity and sense of belonging in different aspects, including cultural traditions and productive life. And their inseparable relationship to their environment. At the same time, the device will act as a means of communicating with residents and other audiences to arouse more attention and response.

In this project, I will learn from fishers about their traditional knots. Then I will collect and use the fishing lines, and fish floats found all over the island and weave them together. At the same time, I also put together a text version of the local real and exciting stories I collected as part of the installation. The work will eventually hang in pavilions above the water of the island’s ponds. The pavilion, called the centenarian pavilion, represents the traditional culture of respecting the elderly.Thus, art and everyday life are combined through the inner connection of materials and stories and places. On the one hand, creating a familiar and particular space for residents and spectators can also arouse people to rediscover and reflect on the place and create new connections and memories with the community.

Fishermen's knots are a disappearing tradition in the Zhoushan Islands. In the past, there were many different kinds of rope knots because of their different purposes. Moreover, older and older fishers give up fishing because of their age. They no longer use rope knots. Young fishers also have only a small number of commonly used knots. So the traditional craft of rope knotting is gradually forgotten and lost. Also gradually forgotten are the older adults of Flower Bird Island. Most of the more than 2,000 households living on the island are elderly. The oldest of them had just turned 100 in May. Most of these older people lived fishing when they were young, and they had deep ties to the sea and fishing culture. However, now they are old and infirm, far from their children living on the island. Time began to become long and slow, the monotony of life on the island day after day made the present-day boring, and memories of the past became more transparent and precious.

Since the Islanders speak the local dialect rather than Mandarin, their stories can not be transmitted directly to outsiders, including tourists. I try to fit in with the community and build a close and friendly relationship with them and with the place. In getting along with and communicating with the island residents, I found that the different languages did not affect the communication between us. They enjoy having conversations with me and sharing special memories and feelings about their hometown. These conversations allowed me to work with residents to rebuild local understanding and identity and deepen our memories of the community and traditional culture.

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