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  • Writer's picture老贵阳

Remembering Remnants

This is a piece that I should have written a long time ago, yet as always I got preoccupied with hundreds of different things and in the end let it fly. No excuses this time. In March this year I had a chance to organise a mini exhibition of some of my Guiyang photos to mark my 5th anniversary in the City. Since it was a rather niche event, I couldn't allow myself to go wild and print out dozens out of hundreds of pictures that I had taken during my time here. Instead, I decide to choose just a few photographs connected by a common theme that would express my feelings towards the City in an adequate way. To tell the truth I wasn't even planning on having any kind of exhibit, taken that I'm just am amateur photographer and I believe there's still a long way to go before I can feel myself fulfilled in the role. Many people liked the photos I took, how ever, so I felt encouraged enough to see it as a proper way to celebrate my special day. In recent days I have come to realise that most of the orignal prints from March are either sold, or decoration in my friend's cafe, or donated to the cat charity I'm running. I felt that back then I had very little experience, and ever less time and supplies to do it all in a way that would do the photos justice. Why did I choose those particular photos? What did the theme of the exhibition mean to me? How did I feel having them all put up together in one place, and most importantly - how do I feel about seeing them now, few months after? I'll start with how it all came to be. It must have been somewhere at the beginning of this year that I took a bus from my friend's cafe (where I'm an advisor of sorts, especially when it comes to food) back to my place at the Friendship Road. It must have been before I got my tiny scooter Lagann, as otherwise I would never have never taken that particular bus - it goes in circles around half of the town before it even gets anywhere close to my house. I used to take it a couple of times in the days long gone, where I had some pressing matters to attend to in this wicked part of the City I like to call The Empire of Evil. Or, perhaps I should say - the Arc of Evil. I had always felt that nothing good has ever happened to me anywhere around that cursed place, but I have to admit that since the opening of the cafe I've been thinking of it a bit more fondly. Then again, it is much easier if you don't need to take any of those idiotic buses (they're particularly bad in there) or waste money on a taxi. But I digress.

That one sunny winter day, before Lagann became my daily provider of much needed mobility, I took a bus that would take the route along the East Riverside Rd. Rather long, but absolutely lovely ride, if it wasn't for one little detail: on the other side of the river there used to be an abandoned chemical lab which I had visited in my second or perhaps third year in the City. It was one of those beautiful, abandoned places that are both eerie and beautiful at the same time. I swore to come back, with a better camera, but in the end all I did was just take a couple of shots from the other side of the river. The laziness got the better of me. Now I was about to pay a terrible price - as I was following the riverside landscape, my face stuck to the bus window pane, I got the feeling that something wasn't quite right. Things didn't add up, the elements of the City puzzle were displaced. I peeled my eyes and tried to analyse the landscape once again, with more scrutiny. Then it dawned on me, an awful realisation. The abandoned lab was gone. Vanished. Demolished and completely phased out from the surface of this world. I tried to tell myself that I must have slept through the part of the journey and woke up too late to see it, but it was all futile - the lab was gone. Gone forever, never to come back, and with it all my plans to revisit. All that was left was that overwhelming sadness, a heavy burned upon my chest. The City would never be the same again, and me, in my ignorance, had been thinking that I could just wake up day and walk up to the lab to see it as I saw fit. Now, with no warning at all, it just disappeared, as if it was never there at all. I did feel quite down after what I saw. I rushed back home to see if I could still find the few remaining pictures of the lab from years gone. Memories came back with the photos - of how I was learning to explore the City, all of it an uncharted and mysterious land. I started thinking about the passage of time, about how weirdly distorted it was and how five days, and then five months suddenly turned into five long years. Whether I wanted to see it or not, the City had changed so much during what basically is half a decade. I had changed, too. Yet, certain artefacts of the past remained - in forms of buildings, bricks, lonely street signs, or other small details. Remnants. I started thinking about what they all meant to me, following my journey to solve the riddle of City. The abandoned chemical lab was surely one of them - but where were the others? Others that gave me the similar feeling of both touching the past, and - at the same time - a feeling of harrowing sorrow and regret. Nostalgia for what use to be, perhaps? How was I to know, not having been in the City when those places had lived their lives of a different era? I wanted to think about remnants as of portals - places that were, are and will be at the same time. It was time to go through my memories and find more. Somehow, the selection ended up following some of my favourite places in the City. I chose ten pictures, two for each area/place, that in my opinion served as Remnants to me and to the City. As this is already becoming quite lengthy, and I was told people don't like to read long stuff cause it makes their brain hurt or something, I'll post just two of them today and continue tomorrow.

^ 1. Chemical Sakuras (2020) This is the lazy-me photo I took one early spring in 2020, when instead I should have crossed the river and take more pictures inside. Last picture of the place I have. Sad, yet somehow the cherry blossom does bring new hope for the future. I've only realised that now.

^ 2. 550005 (2018) My first, and sadly last visit to the lab. I kept telling myself that "I'll just come back next week!" and see where it got me. It's important to treasure all moments, as insignificant as they may seem. I remember that long walk along the river quite well, and I feel I will remember it always. As for the number... well, I'm hoping there's someone who can tell me what that number is (c'mon Guiyang peeps!) I know, of course, but do you? That plate is probably the oldest I've ever seen in the City. And now gone. *** I'm going to finish with this little riddle today. I have to say it was so much fun coming back to the exhibition time and all these photos. I hope you can enjoy the story behind it and the pics, too! G'night all, Lao Guiyang b PS: I'm too beat to reread so if there are typos or bulls*** I suppose it stays this way! Peace X

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