Mixing Waters (2017)

I invite you to join me in a participatory ritual, “Mixing Waters,” which asks you to make imaginative connections between bodies of water as a political act.

As part of my project, Lost Chinatowns, I have been ruminating upon the San Lorenzo River, which was part of the texture of daily life for residents of the last Chinatown: a source of sustenance and a site of joyful play.  I imagine the river as a possible place of respite from the relentless racial discrimination that Chinese people faced outside their home community.  In 1955, waters flooded the banks of the San Lorenzo River, destroying Chinatown, and the land was sold and redeveloped into a shopping center.

Here’s how the process works:
(1) I mail you water from the San Lorenzo River.
(2) Gather water from a local body of water, preferably one with personal, geopolitical, or historical resonance.
(3) Hold your bottle of San Lorenzo River water in your hands.  Notice what images come up — of natural beauty, archival photographs, personal memories, news images, etc.
(4) Hold your container of local water, again noticing what images arise.
(5) Pour the two waters into one vessel.  As you do so, imagine the images and stories of the two bodies of water mixing and flowing into each other.
(6) Use the mixed waters to nourish a plant, either indigenous to this soil or a migrant plant (transplant).
(7) Watch the plant grow and continue to care for it.
(8) Document your ritual in a form of your choice, such as through photography, drawing, video, or written reflection, and send it to me. (For an example, see here.)

If you’re interested in participating, please contact me at info@cynthialinglee.com, and some water will soon be in the mail!

“Mixing Waters” was developed through Borders Resurfacing, a long-distance creative process by the Post Natyam Collective.



s k i n (2010)
Mixed Bag (2011)
Lost Chinatowns (in process)
darshan (2009)