Artist-in-Residence | Kirk Crippens

SIDE GALLERY: 11.16.12 – 12.14.12


Kirk Crippens

Ten Thousand Scrolls

An ancient Chinese proverb states, "Traveling ten thousand miles is better than reading ten thousand scrolls."

I received an invitation to visit China in 2011. While making my travel plans I remembered the Chinese tanks hesitating and halting as they headed toward Tiananmen Square, blocked so powerfully by a man holding grocery bags. I knew ubiquitous ‘Made in China’ labels and ominous news reports had colored my perceptions of China over the years. I also knew I would never think of China the same again after visiting, and I was glad of that. I needed to find a simple, quick way to work during my stay. I purchased a used film camera from Craigslist, the same model I learned photography on. I don’t speak Mandarin; I had to learn how to say ‘Hello’ (Ni Hao) and ‘Thank You’ (Xie Xie) upon my arrival. I used these two phrases and my simple camera to introduce myself to hundreds of people during my stay. I asked with hand gestures if I could take their photos. I wanted to meet as many people as I could and look them the eye. I wanted an opportunity to interact, if only for a moment. These meetings sometimes blossomed into invitations to visit their homes, to have soup (or tea, or apples, or oranges), to visit their rooftop gardens, and once even got me invited to a wedding banquet. The camera became a vehicle to remove obstacles and open doors.

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