MAD’s dreamy project brings new life to an abandoned Chinese market

Timeless Beacon transforms an old market building in Guangdong into a dadaist lighthouse.

Ma Yansong, founder of MAD Architects, was invited by Guangdong Nanhai Art Field to develop an art installation in Taiping Xu, in the Chinese region of Guangdong. Entitled Timeless Beacon the installation aims to bring the past and the future closer through a surreal scene that reactivates the imagination of people.

The project renews the market of Taiping, the largest abandoned place in Taiping Xu, once an extremely lively fair founded at the end of the Ming dynasty and active until the Eighties of the last century, where still fishermen, citizens, and entrepreneurs gathered to do business. The urbanization boom gradually pushed young people to seek opportunities outside the village, in the rapidly growing city across the river. Online retail has definitely brought physical market spaces to their knees, leading to their gradual abandonment.

Ma Yansong wrapped an old three-story building in a silver film, which reflects the old surrounding streets. On top, there is a multimedia light device, enveloped in colorful pieces of cloth, which descends downwards like a dreamlike circus tent, flying in the wind and transforming the building during the night into a surreal lighthouse. The installation will be visible until the summer of 2024.

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