#1 Compostellation

陈玺安 Zian Chen

Life of the Pilgrim

陈玺安 Zian Chen

The internal management of the church became increasingly excessive,

in spite of the dispersion of this generation.

Separatists appeared among moderate Evangelists.

they are keen on judging people’s strength and weaknesses with theological teachings,

especially for those thriving Charismatic congregations,

or even labeled them as “heresy”.

Certain leaders in the Charismatic movement became increasingly radical,

prosperity theology and radical mysticism corroded the church frequented by mostly young people,

they also spared no effort in blaming certain Evangelicals as the “poisonous type”,

the Pharisees of “Legalism”!

Naturalism and scientific supremacy have established a steady power of discourse in the upbringing of this generation.

Reminiscent of Aldo Leopold’s reconsideration of the “Abrahamic concept of land”, Li Ran’s video essay Life of the Pilgrim considers the analytical structure of colonial expansionism by contemplating the Christianity. The narrative also concerns the ecological changes taking place where migrants and indigenous peoples meet. As the essay depicts an ecosystem, Li Ran’s narrative spans multiple generations and involves multi-species. The still images come from scientific records and archives from the Xinjiang Construction Corps in the 1950s related to sheep farming. The tone of the narrator imitates that of nature programs, depicting three generations of sheep (symbolizing Christians) migrating to Xinjiang and their interactions with the religions and lives of the natives. In the film, Li Ran describes this as a “worldly confusion.” Against the backdrop of historical trail-blaze in Xinjiang, he reads from actual biblical sources and reflects on the expansionist colonial history inherent in Christianity. It concerns the ways in which dualistic monotheism interact with indigenous animistic belief, and with the localized forms of worship that developed within Protestantism. Spanning three generations of religious ideas, the narrative does not bound by its linear and epic nature, it forces us to witness other dimensions beyond the settlers and the natives: changing landforms, re-organized crops, the process of domestication, and so on.

In the early spring, katman mattocks and iron shovels broken into the frozen earth.

The Siberian cold front was relentless to the desolate plateau and desert here.

The rolling Bogell Peak capped with snow can’t be seen from here.