This performance project of self-isolation began from a text message notifying the cancellation of my flight, which was an attempt for reconciliation between myself and my homeland. In this belated homeward journey and this 14-day absolute isolation, the queries about self-existence and the fantasy and waiting for the unknown time have evoked my imagination and memory of the homeland. The flight from Paris to Wuhan in January was informed to be cancelled. Two months later, the stalled homecoming plan was re-started. I bought a flight ticket from Paris to Shanghai on 9th, March and stayed in Shanghai for more than three months, then finally returned to Wuhan in June.
I have always paid attention to the perception and experience brought by subtle time differences in daily life, which could be seen as the inner time. I couldn’t imagine and make up the feelings of the period when trapped in a home for more than 70 days and nights. I have realised that the only way to make up for the missing and obstructed imagination is repaying my time to this city which I have no nostalgia for.
In this 14-day project, I put myself in a room with no time reference, no cell phone, no computer, no clock, only a watch that had stopped long ago at 5:10 am or pm of a certain year and month, and the time of a monitor that I had set to January 1, 2020. The ambient sounds outside the window and the sounds people made were the only basis I had for vaguely determining the time. I did the same things over and over again in this room, got up, wrote and read, smoked, ate simple foods, slept, and waited. Removing myself from things forced me to return to the consciousness of the self, to prove my existence in a time without objective reference, in a kind of nothingness.
Every day, I wrote a letter that was tucked out through the door and sent randomly to one of my friends by my relative the next day. There were 14 letters in total, and I took pictures of them every day at the moment before they were tucked out, and noted down the time that I thought was the “here and now”.
These letters are like a collection of non-fiction narratives in which I, you and she appear as the author herself. The author makes three people dialogue with each other, and the texts are one of the most significant parts of this act, they bridge my past and present, the real and the imaginary. When real objects and images from the past appear next to these words, when we see the petals of flowers scattered in my family house in the hometown ten years ago appear across the ocean in Europe, when we see that real objects are hidden in the letters, is it a real memory or a fictitious imagination that is hidden between the words? At which moment was our time stopped?