Xianqi Zhang, Balanced Progress [×]
In our current era of economic globalization and rising nationalism, the importance of nature and its protection appears to be an unresolvable issue. My design project seeks to reengage audiences with environmental awareness as well as a deeper understanding of the philosophical ideas of interrelatedness and interdependence that inform Chinese civilization.
Drawing specifically on “Wuxing” – the Chinese five elements philosophy that views specific elements as representative of different aspects of nature as well as civilization. It finds inherent connection between elements, phases, societal events and phenomena generally. The philosophy provides a model of a dynamic circulatory natural system that emphasizes the strong relationship and connection between each of the traditional elements: earth, water, wood, fire and metal.
Korean artist and philosopher Lee Ufan’s idea about “Infinity as something we don’t understand” and of the unknowable dimension of experience have been a significant inspiration to me, and pushed me to ask how exhibition design can embody these concerns and communicate to audiences potential solutions.
The project re-designs the 2019 National Gallery of Victoria exhibition “Terracotta Warriors & CaiGuoQiang.” Whilst this was an excellent showcase of Chinese cultural production I feel that this exhibition provided an ideal context to explore more deeply environmental and cultural concerns that effect all of us and the design opportunities that embody Wuxing philosophy.
My design project proposes an exploration of the five elements of “Wuxing” each in dialogue with the exhibited artworks of the exhibition. I have imagined an entirely restaged exhibition adding and subtracting elements. I have designed additional experiences for audiences that emphasise their role in interpreting events and completing the art experience. Here I draw inspiration from the principles of relational aesthetics which emphasizes the social interaction between audience members as well as Olaffur Eliasson’s immersive artworks that he argues are completed by audiences.