Film & Moving Image Residencies 2017: Lin Li


Lin’s Work:


Lin’s reflections after the residency:

‘Residency’ is a strange word to describe my stay in Café Tissardmine. To me as an immigrant in Britain, this word has a special connotation. I am not a resident of Morocco, just a visitor. I went to Café Tissardmine with certain preconceptions of what the Sahara would be like. The desert in my mind was tagged with many words – ‘silence’, ‘emptiness’, ‘getting lost’ being some of them. My experience of the place during my sojourn was fleeting and renewed every day, but it was somewhat different from what I had expected.

I did not get lost. There were landmarks, both physical and mental. Some of the landmarks could shift: sand dunes changed forms, and trails left on them did not last. I was told rain could bring grass and flowers to the barren land, and some sand dunes had once been a lake. However in the short time frame of the residency, most landmarks seemed stable enough for me to rely on. Landmarks within could also go through different iterations. Paradoxically when the fear of disorientation and of getting lost was overcome, a direction appeared unbidden.

The desert is a vast open space but it is not empty; quiet but not silent. Café Tissardmine is located at the edge of a village, and an oasis with palm trees is within walking and viewing distance. There was much to see and to listen to. The crying of a well nearby as water was being pumped out of the well; the buzzing of numerous flies and the swish made by hands flipping them away; the grunts of a donkey; the intermittent roars of passing cars, motor bikes and helicopters carrying tourists (or perhaps Hollywood filmmakers); the chatter and laughter of village children playing…. But it was quiet – it felt quiet. There was enough space to absorb the myriad of sounds.

There was space too for me to empty myself. Emptied and filled again – through watching films, talking, looking, listening, walking… I have not made the film which I thought I might make – not that I had any clear idea beforehand but I brought with me some words to work with. In the end, those words were set aside. The desert spoke to me with its own language, foreign and not easy to grasp at first, and yet something gradually resonated within. I tried to learn this language, and to learn from the people around me. I don’t know how much of what I have learned will stay with me but it has helped to shape the three short films I started during the residency. These films will remind me of my sojourn and also of my need to empty from time to time and wait for the unexpected.

Stills from Vanishing Point:

Stills from MO摩ROC洛CO哥:

Stills from Swika and Its Home:

About Lin’s practice:

I have been making moving image work since 2011. Created using a DSLR camera, my films are mostly short meditative pieces covering various themes such as the ephemeral elements of nature, the idea of peace and transience as an existential essence. I have also made films with a documentary element which involves interviews with other people, such as Above us, the Sky which I completed in 2015 with the support of Creative Scotland. It is likely that I will continue to embrace both the contemplative and the documenting approach in my work, and seek to find a balance between them.