Meditation 2- Year of the Rabbit
It begins a week in advance– oranges and tangerines go on sale, sidewalk flower shops sprout, and vendors sell 3-D paper animal cut-outs charging tourists 5x as much as locals. Chinese New Year is my favorite time of year to live in Chinatown and this year (our 3rd one here) was our first attempt to capture it on video.
The ways that we have documented the new year have evolved as we have as visual artists. It is incredible to look at my images from just two years ago and see how differently I shoot now.
The New Year is a time when everything that seems normal and familiar becomes alive and new everyone is more open to connecting. I overhear old women yell Happy New Year! to their neighbors across the street. Last year I met a musician who had just moved to New York from Hong Kong and he and his family invited me to go to a temple with them (and gave me a wonderful explanation of what was going on). This year, a shopkeeper on Mott st. noticed me struggling to see the parade and offered me a small round stool which I stood on for an hour to record. Every time I glanced over at her she gave me an enthusiastic double thumbs up. I took a photo of her which I printed and brought back to her (below). While we were out shooting before the parade, a man named Lian Xi Bo came up to us and decided he wanted to record his new year message for the world, emphasizing the importance of all nations working together to bring about prosperity. Our good friend who works at the Laundromat, with whom our interactions are always animated gestural experiments in communication found a way to extend extra kindness. The week of the new year she folded all our clothes as a surprise, just to be nice.
This year we were blessed with the first warm day of the year. As I headed home from three hours of shooting I remember basking in the golden light (the last shot of the video is the last shot of the day) and thinking that I could not possibly be happier. We dedicate this video to our neighbors in Chinatown, who have made it our home.
This video is part 2 of a series on the mood of the seasons called Meditations. Watch part 1 Winter’s Crossing here.