Emily Bates
Love Scenes 2008

The video, Love Scenes, documents Naxi antiphonal or dialogue courtship songs, the song evaporating as they are sung, as they become virtually extinct.
The video is comprised of 3 sections or songs in a loop, moving from a young couple divided by trees, to a solitary woman in an expansive valley scene playing a ‘call’ tune on a tree leaf, to an elderly couple in a distant mountain hilltop. The split screens of the couples, echoes the song style and formal rules: that the lovers should not see one when singing, but should be separated by trees or a river as they become acquainted and fall in love.

...My dear.
although we have no appointment under the fir tree,
although we just happen to meet on our way,
it is a one-in-a-thousand coincidence.
If you have true affection for me, please slow down a few steps.

Even though we have no appointment under the tree,
like the water of Shangshui village,
we are from different places that flow together.
If you have true affection for me, please come up a few steps.

My beloved, my sweetheart.
The whangee-made string instrument,
with its three leaves makes different sounds,
yet tuned with your tone and mine, will be perfect.
We two, if harmonised in temper and voice,
reflected from heart to heart, will create a family.
If you have sincere affection for me, please slow down a few steps.

Today we are really like the string instrument that makes beautiful and harmonious sounds:
Like the gold sheath of sickle that makes iron, from stone and grass together.
Like the blue sky and the white clouds, that live together as a family.
My girl you should express your sincere heart and give your voice of instruction.
Thus to make iron and grass enter into the gold sheath of sickle,
you should show me your true heart and offer me the gift of engagement.

My sweetheart,
the firestone is far away in Kunming, the iron in Eya,
while the grass is high upon the mountain.
Though they are separated from each other, we can bring them together.
If only I had the gift of engagement, so whenever I can't see you,
I can take it out and prove to others our engagement.
If you give me a piece of wood, I would say it contains turpentine.
If you offer me a stone, I would say its bosom is of gold.
As in the ancient rule, you should lend me the gift of engagement.

...I will give you a gift of engagement,
even if I have nothing but stones...