In June 2009 we accompanied two Chinese banknotes (10 yuan and 20 yuan) on their way through China – and through theses note got acquainted with the people who were spending the money. As long as the notes were in their possession we remained with the respective owners. If they spent the banknotes, we also would swap the owner. With the help of two video cameras we recorded our encounters and, while circulating with the money from one hand to the next, we became witnesses of everyday life in China. The accompaniment of “Renminbi” - Chinese for the “people’s money” - took us four weeks and 4,000 kilometres leading us into the individual stories and value conceptions of contemporary China. Two questions arose: Where – and even more important Who – actually are the people who spend this “people’s money”? The back of the 10 yuan banknote shows the Kuimen, the entrance to Qutang, one of the most famous of the Three Gorges of the Yangtze Kiang. Before setting off we looked for the point from which we could take a picture of the gorge exactly as it is depicted on the banknote. We declared this to be the starting point for our journey into Chinese everyday life - the place from which the 10 yuan banknote should symbolically start its course. On 11 June 2009 we and our translator Jam Pei flew from Beijing to Chongqing in the Chinese interior. A long-distance bus took us 700 kilometres to the east. In the middle of the night we got off in a village not knowing exactly where on the Yangtze Kiang we were. We showed the back of our ten yuan note to a taxi driver who nodded and drove us to the village of Baotaping. The gorge was shrouded in the thick mist of the dawn. Somewhere above the village we decided that this had to be the point with the best view. We shouldered our rucksacks, climbed up the hill and found a white-brick house. From there we had the most perfect view of the gorge, which was slowly freeing itself from the morning mist. A man came out of the entrance, light-blue shirt, short trousers, his wife behind him. We introduced ourselves to the farming couple Chen Guorong and Cai Chunming and explained the project. They found the idea amusing and offered to sell us three pounds of peaches for the ten yuan note. “Now we belong to you,” we said, as the tenner disappeared into Chen Guorong’s breast pocket… Our journey with the tenner leads into Chinese everyday life, it leads to the people in the street and so into the midst of their individual and emotional microcosms. Our findings? We have met salesmen, day labourers, apprentice hairdressers, workmen, clerks, farmers, street traders, shoeshiners, the owners of kiosks, old and young people. However different their social background and current situations, they are all cherishing the same thing: hope for a better future.

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