[N]u River Valley, located in Western Yunnan Province, China, in the Southern mountain range, about 400 kilometers long. In 2000, ‘the Three Parallel Rivers’ was established as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, including Nu River Valley, Jinsha River Valley and Lancang River Valley. Lisu minority and Nu minority have lived in the valley for thousands of years. Most of them are ordinary farmers, their lands scattered in the steep slopes showing a V-shape along the river, formed by Biluo Snow Mountain and Gaoligong Mountain. They use primitive farming methods to plant corn and rice, work hard all through the year and the harvest is quite modest.
One hundred years ago, missionaries sowed the seeds of faith. Those who adhere to it are still poor, but they are bright, cheerful and full of light. These impoverished farmers never forget thanksgiving and pray daily for their repentance. The spirit of Christ lives within them as they plant, harvest, enjoy and suffer, from birth to death. They face a hard life but they are calm and quiet: a sudden burst of rain does not change the pace of their footsteps.
I came to this valley in 2010 and used an old photography process (Wet Collodion glass plate) and took pictures. My work was based on the local people’s common beliefs and values. I hoped I could use old photography techniques to depict original farming methods. I captured magical light and shadow. I believe it was a gift from God.
We have been distant from these people for a long time and we are different in every way. The images piled up in silver particles are like a mirror. I hoped my reflection could be my appearance in the future. When my friend saw these photos for the first time he asked me: ‘Were these photos taken one hundred years ago?’ ‘No!’ I replied, ‘they were taken one hundred years after!’
(Luo Dan | Simple Song, PRIVATE 55, pages 38-41)