Between 2022 to 2023, the artist embarked on four filming trips into the Changbai Mountains and the upstream region of the Songhua River. She captured documentary footage of activities such as logging, hunting, ginseng digging, fishing, and more, using video mediums like 16mm film, digital camera, drone, and GoPro. Throughout this process, the artist not only experienced the changing seasons of nature but also encountered immense challenges posed by extreme weather conditions, particularly the harsh cold, which tested her physical and mental resilience as well as the filming process itself. The film A Darkness Shimmering in the Light portrays the frozen Songhua River as a gateway to a journey through time and space. By integrating segments from ethnography of Siberia and the Xing’an Mountains, Northeastern literature, and folklore into the documentary footage, the artist constructs a series of fictional ecological narratives. The rivers, mountains, forests, and ice at the border become a constant yet ever-transforming stage, while wind and snow serve as poetic mediums that connect the past with the present. Plants, animals and humans intertwine and coexist on equal footing. The film endeavors to unravel the binary oppositions between nature and culture, science and mythology, technology and ecology, and humans and non-humans, employing a poetic language that develops a sense of empathy between the artist and the natural world.
dir. Liu Yujia, 2023
short films weave documentary footage, literature, ethnography, folklore, and travelogue into embodied and affective experiences. Taking the physical landscape of Asia for her subject matter and setting, her lyrical style unsettles the line between straight documentary and narrative storytelling. Meditative and symbolic, Liu’s work often relegates humans to the status of minor characters by focusing on other forms of life.
Mia Yu is a practice-led art historian and curator. She is the initiator and curator of Anthropocene x Extractive Frontier, a research platform that explores divergent narratives of the Anthropocene through eco-imageries, alternative cosmologies and embodied eco-poetics from Northeast China (aka Manchuria) and beyond. Mia Yu engages writing, filmmaking, performance lecture and exhibition making in her multi-dimensional practice.