For Document's Fall/Winter 2019 lunar portfolio, Shanghai-based architecture duo Neri&Hu offer a meditation on humanity's need for nostalgia.
For Document’s Fall/Winter 2019 issue, in commemoration of the 50 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, a selection of the culture’s most compelling architects, designers, artists, and thinkers were asked to imagine life on the Moon as part of the Lunar Portfolio. The results ranged from a mix of imaginative, yet practical proposals like asteroid mining technology, to songs for Earth’s natural satellite. Neri&Hu, an architectural design firm based in Shanghai, responded to the query by offering a meditation on memories, and mooncakes. Based on Chinese mythology, here’s their take on what they would fly to the Moon.
Click here to read all of the Lunar Portfolio submissions.
Coined as a medical term around the end of the 17th century, nostalgia was thought to be a disease commonly afflicting soldiers and sailors who, forced to leave their homelands, began to manifest symptoms such as fainting, high fever, and even death—all later attributed to actual physical illnesses. It was only toward the first half of the 19th century that nostalgia began to attain its modern meaning, both in literary and everyday usage. Now it is commonly understood as a sentimentality for the past, but it should be noted that the object of longing is transferred from the concreteness of place to the invariably abstract notion of time. Time being irreversible, the past being forever past, nostalgia can only be defined as the presence of an absence.
Every year during the Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese around the world are reminded of the story of Chang’e (嫦娥), the goddess of the Moon who lives with a jade rabbit. She took a pill of immortality while on Earth and flew away to the Moon and to live there forever. On the bright night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, when you look closely at the round Moon, you might be able to identify a lonely shadow of a lady and a rabbit.
We propose to bring the wooden mooncake mold with the name of our practice in Chinese carved in it. The mooncake made out of this mold was used to commemorate the life of Chang’e every year during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Once we are reunited with the goddess, there will be no need for us to make mooncakes anymore, but the memory of where it came from will remind us of the past before our life on the Moon.