This work is inspired by the iconic film from the French New Wave: L’Année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad) (1961) by Alain Resnais, written by Alain Robbe-Grillet. The film is still famous for the ambiguity of its narrative structure and its innovative filmic language, in which temporal and spatial logic is continually destabilized.
Re-staged in the historic French Concession of Shanghai, taking place in a café named after the French art film, a public park combining French and Chinese garden styles, and neighborhoods that reference Chinese and Euroean architecture, the film hints at the notion that cultural perceptions of time remain unfixed.
Notions of identity and gender, fade as much as assert themselves in a strange and complex atmosphere as the artist inhabits both the male and female protagonists’ roles. However, in a departure to his usual practice, the new footage is re-edited with excerpts of the original film to form a cinematic collage, that references the formal aesthetics of structuralist film cuts or experimental video glitches, further emphasizing the material’s temporal dissonance.
The original dialogue, describing events that happened ‘last year’ is overlaid with the artist’s voice foretelling the same events ‘next year’, as though the protagonist has time-travelled back from the future.
As images and words restlessly shift between different times and geographies, the lines between reality, memory and illusion continue to be blurred.