Kindness is Farewell? @ Roca Beijing Gallery

Jiashi Yu (Designer)

Research output: Practice-based research outputExhibition/ Event/ FestivalCurated works: Physical Exhibition/ Event/ Festival


In 1988, performing artists Marina Abramovic and Ulay decided to walk from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China to mark the end of their twelve-year relationship and partnership. The artwork was full of pain and hardship. While their love was doomed, their embrace of farewell was the ultimate form of kindness to each other.

The ongoing exhibition at ROCA Beijing Gallery was designed by Jess Yu, an academic and architect in China. Inspired by Marina and Ulay’s artwork, the project reimagines the Great Wall to become a utopic device that celebrates kindness among humanity. The project challenges the idea of whether intangible emotions to become a positive resource to reimagine the built environment and instill hope and compassion to the future.

The project imagines people embarking on a pilgrimage journey to walk toward each other from the two ends of the Great Wall. The red threads that traverse the entire length of the Great Wall symbolize the connection between one another. They are also translated into tectonics harvest rainwater and wind energy to embrace the fragility of nature. While a single thread may be easily broken, weaving them together creates resilience and strength.

Bamboo is used as the primary building material due to its fast-growing, strong, and flexible quality as a metaphor for resilience and adaptability. The architecture is built of half live bamboos and half dried bamboos; they form a cantilever and hug around the Great Wall. As the live bamboos continue to grow, the building requires constant maintenance, which is an analogy to the relationships between people, that we need to nurture kindness, empathy, and compromise with each other.

The bamboo garden is another design tectonic to cultivate baby bamboos and irrigate the farm. People who participate in this journey will also contribute to the bamboo irrigation and maintenance of the architecture. The project not only zooms into the relationships among people but also reflects on the consumerism culture that projects to our responsibility for protecting nature.

The bittersweet architectural story of farewell and reunion celebrates the intangibilities of emotions as well as the kindness of humanity while taking drawings as a most rudimentary tool to convey and construct the nuances.

We hope the project can bring hope and enlightenment to those who are in hardships and difficulties. We need to cultivate kindness among each other to disintegrate the separation of walls.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherROCA Gallery Beijing
Media of outputFilm
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2023


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