Circumscribing Chengdu, 2014
I start in Tianfu Square, the physical center of Chengdu, and try to walk in a linear way. As I walk, the rule is that if I make eye contact with someone, I will ask them, "我们在哪儿?" ("Where are we?") until the people around me begin to answer not "Chengdu," but "Tianhuizhen" or the name of another surrounding village that has been developed and its inhabitants displaced by the city's expansion. This piece started from questions about where I was and what counts as Chengdu according to native inhabitants.
I had been living in Chengdu for two years and did this to mourn as I prepared to leave. Like Beijing, Shanghai, and other massive cities in China, Sichuan's capital city had been expanding for several decades as each ring road and subway line was built outwards, subsuming the villages that used to make up the land and life. Farmers and villages were protesting and even self-immolating, but I could not find much information about what was happening other than what friends and taxi drivers told me. I learned I should ask directly impacted people.