“Women’s Writing”, 女书 (Nüshu) in Chinese, is a script developed by and passed on among the female population of small villages in the South Hunan Province.
Nüshu has historically served an important role of communication and emancipation for local women; it enabled them to express themselves openly and freely in restricted and patriarchal imperial China: they frequently exchanged letters, poems, songs, prayers, tales, wedding congratulations, etiquette advice, and more.
Derived from square Chinese characters and local symbols, Nüshu takes more whimsical shapes often reminiscent of dancing figures. Square dance and public exercise are forms of socialization and communication in contemporary China, especially for women.
“Dance Remains” is a series of long exposure photographs I made of square dancers in various parks around Shanghai in the evening, after asking them to attach LED lights on their bodies while dancing. I was surprised at how many of them complied, and the result appears as if they’re writing an abstract secret language with the movement of their bodies. This for me evokes the times when the female population gathered together to sing songs and do embroidery in the Nüshu village.
By combining these photographs with the flowy Nüshu characters, I intend to form a poetic visual compilation of photography and writing, two subjects that fascinate me, as well as an interesting juxtaposition of two social customs from different times (where female place an important role). (Jessie YingyingGong, 2018)