2685 meters, Lugu Lake is located in one of the most remote areas in China. The Mosu ethnic minority people who live here are a subgroup of the Naxi. Their culture encourages flexible arrangements for love, affairs which are called ‘roving marriages.’ Do the Mosu have the word equivalent to ‘love’ in their dialect? Men stay in their mothers’ home during the day and visit their lovers at night. Both men and women are open to multiple partners with whom they enjoy a purely sexual relationship, completely free from future marital or financial obligation. All children and property belong to the women. Disputes are adjudicated by female elders. In their 1000 year old, pictographic language system, nouns become more powerful when the word for ‘female’ is added and conversely, the addition of the word ‘male’ weakens the meaning, i.e. stone plus female means boulder, while stone plus male means pebble. It is very often described as one of the last existing Matriarchal Societies. Over three thousand years, the Mosu have kept their tradition of ‘community’ a very communistic form of sharing work and food together. Is the zero-percent crime rate a result of open and free sexual activities or is it a result of the morality provided by the commune? The economic life’s unique characteristics mean that there is no coveting of others belongings and also no need to conduct illicit relationships because all is open and shared. What are the similarities and conflicts between this tradition and the Communism later imported? We can still see the communes effect in present dominant economic life there – tourism, the willingness to share and the equality of distribution all exist. This kind of collective societal behavior is far less frequent in the other areas of China today. The true meaning of Lugu Lake is not merely ‘Lake of Romance’ as the tourist industry promotes but as a unique place to examine various forms of community and culture, in the context of power and economy.
Women of the Long March
Julia Kristeva, “About Chinese Women”
The two most famous Mosu are both women, Grandma Xiao and Yang Er Che Na Mu. Grandma Xiao was a well-educated lady, a rare product of late 30s Western China. The daughter of an army general, she married the last governor of Mosu and moved to the lakeside village. Soon after she arrived, she abandoned her many elementary school textbooks, her piano and her dream of setting up a school for the children, instead she learned to shoot simultaneously, one pistol in each hand. A supporter of the Red Army and a survivor of eight years imprisonment during the New Republic built by the Red Army, Grandma Xiao witnessed the dramatic changes of time and her own life. She is still alive, a poor, ordinary old lady of Lugu Lake.
Yang Er Che Na Mu is today considered the proud jewel of Mosu. An illiterate, non-Chinese speaking Mosu teenger who did not know her own age, as is the Mosu tradition, she went to study in Shanghai and later lived in Beijing and San Francisco. She is a celebrity in China, not only because of her stories of orgy sexual relationships with men, most of them Westerners, but because of her two popular autobiographies. In Out of the Kingdom of Women and Back to the Kingdom of Women, she claims her success in life was a result of her cultural background. The values instilled in her by the matriarchal society enabled her to be an autonomous, courageous, and sexually free woman and to thrive outside in the male dominant society, both in China and the United States.
Yang Er Che Na Mu, Back to the Kingdom of Women
Exhibition – F-Male
An exhibition based on Grandma Xiao will be displayed at the School of Hope, one of the many schools built by a national endowment created to give aid to the most underdeveloped areas in China. Also an exhibition based on Yan Er Che Na Mu will be displayed at the School of Coca Cola, a school funded, perhaps obviously, by the Coca Cola company.
Read excerpts from Julia Kristeva’s About Chinese Women and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex to the all-female audience. Show catalogues of Chinese Feminist Art and Western Feminist Art exhibitions. International and Chinese women artists and theorists will participate in the workshop and exhibition here.
Mosuo People, Lugu Lake
Tourists at the “Lake of Romance”
Cai Jin,”Beauty Banana Plant Series,” Oil on Mattress, 1995
Shen Yuan, “Losing One’s Saliva,” Installation
Guo Fengyi Proposal, “Following You,” Installation
Lei Yan, “If the Long March was a Women’s Rights Movement,” Photography
Lei Yan, Poposal, “White Night,” Installation
Works by Xi’an based woman artist, Sun Guojuan
Huang Yong Ping, EP3 Project, 2002