Castagneti is the name of the street where we live. We’ve been here for more than 4 years. This project was done two months after newly settling in the area, during the Christmas period of 2013.
The purpose behind was twofold, to do a sort of self-introduction and to say thanks to local people who helped us settle down.
The way of doing it was inspired by a local cheese shop staff. One day, we bought some cheeses there and gave the lady a credit card with Chinese characters written on it to pay. The lady took it and inserted into POS, during which she discovered the characters and obviously was amazed. She asked whether they are Japanese. We told her they are Chinese. “Che storico!” She said, “I have never seen Chinese character before!”
We were surprised by her reaction and the fact it was her first time to see Chinese character. Pasturo is a small mountain village and there’s no Chinese around. She can’t be the only one new to Chinese. So we had this idea of using Chinese character to make new year card.
Writing ‘happy new year’ in both Chinese and Italian has never been a solution. Translating a general message has no impact. We want to show meaning that belongs exclusively to that particular card receiver, written in Chinese.
Given the fact the cheese shop lady was amazed to see Bank of China written in Chinese, we thought people should be happy to see their own names written and presented nicely in Chinese.
We were ambitious at the beginning, having this crazy idea of covering all the population of Pasturo. Soon, it proved to be impossible. The scope was shrunk down to people living along our street.
Names were collected from mailboxes and doorbell panels. We didn’t want to spoil everything by asking people. After all, you cannot ask directly. Chatting casually is too time consuming. We translated them into Chinese, found a good font, and arranged them on calligraphy-practice-paper styled background. If someone wants to write his or her name in Chinese, the grid can definitely be helpful.
The idea was originally meant to “send out happiness to the neighbourhood without face-to-face contact”, but people still favoured the classic way.