Xiwei Zhang (she/her)
As an interior designer with a background as a filmmaker, the word ‘montage’ is a link to my diverse experience. Montage comes from the French word for ‘composition,’ which first referred to the composition of architecture and was later widely used to express the editing of films. As a cross-disciplinary designer, I want to use my experience as a filmmaker to direct space, applying transitions from film to it and giving it emotion and story. Throughout the year, I am constantly trying to find the life of the space and let it tell its own story.
The Dialogue of Memory
This is an adaptation of the Sishengci street water tower in Chengdu, Sichuan, with the theme Host. For this project, Pierre Nora’s journal Between Memory and History inspired my choice of memory as host. In the journal, he mentioned: “As Maurice Halbwachs has said, that there are as many memories as there are groups, that memory is by nature multiple and yet specific; collective, plural, and yet individual. On the other hand, history belongs to everyone and no one, whence its claim to universal authority. Memory takes root in the concrete, spaces, gestures, images, and objects; history strictly binds itself to temporal continuities, progressions, and relations between things. Memory is absolute, while history can only conceive the relative.” Combining the history of Sishengci Street with this passage, I began to think about the relationship between memory and history. History is an objective presence, while memory is more of a subjective one. I believe that memory as a host can give a subjective dimension to an objectively existing historical building, thus enabling each person who uses the space to have a different experience. I hope that everyone who comes to this water tower will find in it a resonance of their own memories.
Details of buildings in Sishengci Street
Sisyphus, Theatre of the Absurd
Inspired by Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, this project is dedicated to translating and visualising the absurdity of philosophical concepts in spatial expressions. Sisyphus is punished with the eternal repetition of pushing a boulder up a hill and watching it roll down; just as his endlessly meaningless repetition of acts, the absurd philosophical view holds that life and human actions have no cosmic significance. Therefore, the way to rebel against fate is to understand that the meaning of life is life itself and to live in the moment. Firstly, through analyzing and comparing absurd literature and theatre works, I have extracted from them the elements that characterise absurdity: cyclical, repetitive actions, clichés; and then visualised these elements in space. Secondly, I want to show the partial details, the sense of the atmosphere, and the changes in the space through physical and digital models. I hope that in the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, France, where the theatre of the absurd originated, the staging of the story of Sisyphus will take the audience on a journey of self-discovery.