Yesterday evening Adrienne and I ventured into the village in which we live, Bei Gao, to work on the Body Project. I had no idea what to expect. We started at one end of the village and approached groups of people that were sitting or standing and not in conversation, working, or eating. People were willing to take the card and interact with us but hardly anyone was willing to actually fill out the card. Whole groups would stop and everyone would gather around or just watch from a distance. We tried miming, I tried drawing an example card but it was still difficult to convey our goals and help them feel comfortable with the project. While trying to give information I also wanted to avoid guiding their responses. Above is an image of two young hair stylist who were willing to contribute. Below, another contributor and his less interested friend.
Overall, men in the village seemed much more willing to participate. That being said, a main component of the Body Project is researching what kind of language people use to describe their bodies–I am specifically interested in non-gendered language. I try not to read the cards until I have a bundle so that I read what people say about their bodies without having preconceived notions about them.
The men above were selling some kind of hard alcohol outside of one of the main stores in Bei Gao (and across from our favorite restaurant). Adrienne and I noticed the shopkeeper that we interact with regularly and approached her and her helpers. The purple shirted men noticed and took cards as well. Soon the whole corner was full of people curious about what we were doing and snagging tastes of booze. We passed out tons of cards and pens and got about 10 responses in a very intense 10 minutes–it was exhilarating!
Last night was a wonderful experience. We were able to interact with the people that we pass in the streets every day. I feel like I learned a lot about them and I hope that they feel the same way–now they know what some of us are up to. The aspect of engagement is what I love about this project.