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Raising China, a creative Documentary
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Rasing China

a creative documentary

Interview: András Petérffy - Jürg Da Vaz


01 52 These pictures were shot in China, though at first sight the only thing that can be noticed: there is something peculiar in them.
02 02 And the author is here in the studio: Jürg Da Vaz.
02 05 Hello, Jürg, hi!
Hello, András!
02 08 We have known one another for a long time.
Q: You make pictures, either paint or make photographs.
What do you like most?
02 20 A: The process.
The process itself.
03 47 A: Process.
Q: Process? That means the making of the film?
A: That's right.
04 27 Q: The result is less interesting?
Is the process that important?
A: The process is the picture -the result you will see.
04 30 A: The way the picture is made is essential. (soft Chinese dialogue in the background)
04 40 Q: When you make a picture, you change reality?
A: I enter reality... . I open the door... . I put down the camera... . I make a picture... .
05 03 Q: So you intervene?!
05 07 A: I just put my camera down.
05 10 Q: Is it different when you draw?
A: Not much different. I put my pencil down. I fill the white paper... .
05 22 Q: So the camera is a «white», «open» space?
05 30 A: Yes, the camera has an empty tape... , there is nothing on it... , only if I... .
05 35 Q: What is the process? You take off the cap of the camera lense, and the picture is there?
Q: The picture is ready then?
05 48 A: Well.., it is ready when the situation provides me what I am looking for... .
06 00 A: I have to be charged... , you know... .
06 08 Q: What is the push you get? Where do you get the push from?
06 10 A: I don't know. I just wait...
06 25 Chinese background noises, voices.
06 49 Q: What were you inspired here?
06 53 A: I was not inspired... . I put down the camera and waited... . But it is is inspiring what you see, isn't it?
07 10 Q: But why? Why did you start the camera.
07 11 A: She was cooking! Cooking. As the Chinese are cooking. They are cooks. They cook like nowhere else in the world.
07 24 Q: Is the cook an artist?
A: They put in the flour like this, they cook with their hands..., they don't measure it... , take a handful of flour... , like this... .
07 40 A: And that is how they build cities... .
08 10 A: They build cities with a big hand... .
09 05 Q: Your China-picture is real? Or a vision?
09 18 A: Whatever we do is VIRTUAL REALITY... , and by doing this we create a new reality... , and this I especially felt in China... . There is a great possibility, there is an immediacy to create a new reality... , just because the constraints are so great in China... , because of its resources... , its environment... , the size of its population... .
09 52 A: There are lots of different layers of reality! So what is real? You ask me this several times in this film. What is real?
11 08 A: It is as if a new era opens up in China... .
11 16 A: And they are ready for it... . There is a tremendous impetus there..., and the people are ready to move forward... .
11 33 Q: In what direction do they move?
11 35 A: Towards prosperity. They feel their own future!
11 46 Q: Isn't it shocking to experience this tension?
A: This is China. They enter a new area, they move forward, they do not look back... .
11 55 Q: Is Shanghai developing or just changing?
A:Tremendously developing, developing as we cannot imagine here, here in Europe where all the cities seem to be built... .
12 38 A: I always judge the stability of a country by the food... , the food... , fantastic, tremendous... . Every day I had something different... . I went with my students to many places, there were different tastes everywhere... . I said to myself: a place where there are so many different tastes - that must be a secure place... .
13 31 Q: Well, by the way... , how can you judge your students when they draw... ?
A: I can judge the process they put on the paper... .
13 50 Q: And you appreciate it? Or you say it is good, it is bad? Or you say it is OK?
14 00 A: I might say: «maybe you could stop it!?» Or I say: «Why don't you continue?, go on, move on, why don't you go on!»
14 17 Q: By the way: What students you had? What is the name of the University?
14 19 A: They were 22-24 years old, third-year students, just in the middle of a five-year program at the Freedom Arts Department of the China National Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. SONG: I love you, because you understand me... .
16 00 Q: Your China picture is real or a vision? (Chinese words dialogue)
16 34 A: Limits... , constraints... , that is what I wanted... . I wanted them just to draw and not to paint, to draw only lines..., and by doing that I could encourage theme... , I could encourage their individuality... . I could encourage their drawing talent... and they would start -every one of them- would start their own style, their individual style... , and this was a great pleasure to experience. Because I said to myself: if this approach works with these students why shouldn't it work for the nation?
17 40 Q: What did they learn from you? What did these students get?
17 46 Q: A new way of thinking? Or a way of living? Or a way of ... both?
17 50 A: I provided an unexpected impulse by putting them into different situations, where they may not have been placed before. And with this impulse I created a fresh push... .
18 30 Q: Anybody can be an artist? A: YES. IF... if..if.., if you make an effort and stick with it.
18 46 A: You know, it is a risk.
Q: What was the most enchanting for you in China? What did you learn?
18 57 A: I was very taken in by the stability... . How anything, even the greatest changes would always end in a stable situation.
A: And... when you look at the students dormitories... I found intimacy... concentrated in a few square metres. I was very touched by this.
19 45 A: I was very impressed how fast individual development takes off... if you provide the IMPULSE.
20 14 Q: Could you show me any of the drawings which you brought here?
20 26 A: I always told my students: Look for the system!
20 50 A: Look for the system... if you find the system... you are able to develop a hundred pictures.
21 03 A: I put these pictures together because... they have nothing to do with each other.
21 07 A: This is paper...
21 18 A: ...and this is water... , as structure...
21 25 A: You see: she got the system..., got the system of the structure!
21 45 Q: What do the people have in China? An instinct or a vision of the future?
21 52 A: I think they are guided by the wisdom of nature... When the situation is ripe - you harvest ... When the flood comes - you wait... you hold out...
22 08 A: ... you wait until the flood recedes... .
22 56 Q: They have a real vision of the future? Or just desires?
23 07 A: I think they have an immediacy in themselves to produce and to create... and whatever is there in them... they get it out and they realize it... .
23 25 Q: Where do the roots go down?
23 32 A: Local. They are very local.
24 33 Q: Look here! Strange things what you have seen in China!!
A: This is traditional life. A dance... farmer girls coming to the city... growing up... becoming beatiful... .
24 46 Q: If you look at these pictures... it is a strange mixture of things: past, present, future, ... a vision. That is true. This is very much China... past, present, future... one on top of the other.
25 10 Q: Look, you are an artist... just for a few minutes let's look at this rain... how the rain and the dance work together... .
25 51 Q: Tell me: what makes a picture? A: You see the rain here? You hear the echo of the movement... created by the raindrops?
26 00 A: I walked into the most modern building of Shanghai Pudong and I found the structure of the building... even the structure of the carpet... it looks to me like the structure of raindrops... as if they were echoing the structure of the raindrops... the most modern building... you look down to the lobby and when you turn around... you look at the ceiling... a fantastic piece of architecture, finished a couple of months ago...
27 00 A: ... and in the middle... you see the past in the middle... here comes the past...
28 24 A: This is China, everything stays the same for a thousand years and then all of a sudden it changes abruptly.
28 43 Q: Where are the real pictures?
28 48 A: You stand with one leg in the 19th century and with the other leg in the 21st century.

Budapest, 8.December 1999