Playing with ‘Variations on Mobility’, the four Creative Commissions teams in 2019-2020 have developed their projects along different trajectories traced by the unfolding movements of People, Objects, Texts and Ideas across times and spaces. As small groups composed of academics who have embraced art in their research practices, or artists working in collaboration with scholars across various disciplinary backgrounds, the Commissions engage different Theories and Methods of mobility, working with ethnographic, archival, historical, anthropological, geographical and creative methodologies. The following text and original images represent a short abstract realised by the team to help us follow the path of their creative work.

Pearls From China

Pearls from China explores routes and types of goods that have characterized the first migratory flow from China to Europe.

Pearls from China is a collaborative project between Ciaj Rocchi, Matteo Demonte and Daniele Brigadoi-Cologna. It is focused on the movement of Objects – fake pearls – but it is also strongly related to the movement of People: in particular, from the rural districts in the hinterland of Wenzhou to many countries in Northern, Central and Southern Europe.

The aim of this collaboration is to further understand how, in the Twenties of the last century, the trade of these fake pearls helped to set the course for the most important migration flow from continental China to Europe. The collaboration will document the beginning of this phenomenon with an animated short documentary.

Although extant archival sources and the relevant scientific literature in the field of migration studies have shed some light on the origins of the Zhejiang migration to Europe, many details remain unclear, like: the intermediaries in Shanghai, the importers in France, the routes that spanned the Eurasian continent and connected China to several European capitals and seaports.

Daniele Brigadoi Cologna, Insubria University
Matteo Demonte
Ciaj Rocchi