Asian Art Biennial
Medi(t)ation – 2011 Asian Art Biennial
1 October 2011–1 January 2012
Medi(t)ation – 2011 Asian Art Biennial opens on October 1st at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
Medi(t)ation – 2011 Asian Art Biennial opens on October 1st at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. Curator Iris Shu-Ping Huang uses the two key concepts of “mediation” and “meditation” to explain the creation of “M-Shaped Thinking” in contemporary Asian art. The theme Medi(t)ation is a concept that reflects the trend across Asia towards an M-shaped societal structure and the related threats it poses, while presenting a strongly communicative Asian cultural stance and stressing methods for mediating conflicts and tensions.
This year’s Biennial has invited a total of 40 individuals and organizations from 21 Asian countries and districts to participate in the exhibit, including artists from Taiwan, Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Russia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America, as well as Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Israel, Pakistan from Central and Southwest Asian and other areas. Medi(t)ation refers to exploring changing Asian culture, and how artists search for a middle ground between traditional values and modern cultural development amidst widely varying extreme influences; and how they look for the room for “cultural mediation” over the course of reflection and shifting power structures, to establish their position in the anxious area of global cultural competition.
Medi(t)ation, emphasizing conciliatory elements such as mediation and self-awareness, attempts to seek balance between the extreme disparities inherent in the age of Mobility. Considering present-day Asia in transition from a cultural perspective, it is apparent that religions and societies throughout the Asia-Pacific region have become diverse and complex, defying categorization into to a single context or discourse. In the process of cultural development, therefore, adaptive aesthetics from everyday transformation and linguistic styles with a conciliatory flair demonstrate that artists are experiencing the meeting of historical traditions and contemporary changing realities amidst division and conflict. This year’s exhibition explores and examines the structural threats that Asian societies face: the extremity fostered by “M-ification” and ecological change; fluid lifestyles; unsettled and anxious pysches; collapse of security systems; and conflict between cultures. Asia’s current cultural state must confront the uncertainties and contradictions within its self, while wrestling with the division and evolution of its self as impacted by external global and regional forces amid interlinked worldwide crises. Through discussion of Medi(t)ation, one hopes to explore how, in the current flux of multinational, complex, cultural exchange, we can create a space to commune with self and group, despite our respective struggles between tradition and modernity, and to develop an attitude of tolerance.
This year’s exhibition at NTMoFA features two local works of art: Hong Kong artist Tsang Kin-wah’s work Re-presenting Hakka/Taiwan/Oriental/Michael’s Image in Various Ways intertwines language and words with patterns and images to explore the essence of what defines culture and how we interpret our selves through media, language, marketing, and other channels. The artist takes the familiar Hakka patterned cloth and utilizes rhetorical and cultural language to convey his exploration. Like fields of flowers, Tsang’s works sprawl across the glass canopy, entrance, E-shaped pavilion and other public spaces at NTMoFA, weaving in the current cultural phenomena and social issues in Taiwan and Asia that call urgently for reflection. Taiwanese artist Lin Chuan-chu’s work Foundation Dharanimdhara is represented through a 300-square meter rice paddy built atop the starlit lawn outside NTMoFA. Through Foundation Dharanimdhara, Lin seeks to conceptualize the reconciliation of urbanites who return to farming with land that is no longer being cultivated, striking an ideal balance between the famer and the artist, practice and labor, production and consumption. Lin suggests that people must rediscover the changes in climate, seasons, nourishment, and one’s own physical and mental state through the cultivation of land, and once again interact with and sustain the land, thus reestablishing the connection between man and nature.
Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan are a husband and wife team originally from the Philippines who constructed an inverted, elevated hull of a ship to symbolize a temporary shelter during a journey. The Aquilizans collected various items, toys, books, clothing, and other materials that people dispose of at recycling centers, bundled these, and arranged them within the symbolic shelter. On the lower hull hung colorful little cards that people filled with thoughts about traveling, relocation, separation and reunion. This work spatially represents life’s unions and separations while also serving as a symbolic physical repository of collective memory. The Indonesian trio Tromarama comprises three young artists from design backgrounds. The work they have on display at this exhibition, Silent Dialectica, utilizes the Lucky Cat’s gestures and bells to summon the terror in our hearts and thus inspire the strength to face those fears. For his brand-new piece on display Fall Word, the Chinese artist Xu Tan conducted surveys and interviews in Taiwan on key language focusing on “eating”, “nation”, and “who”. During the exhibition period, Xu will hold a series of three workshops on October 4th, 5th, and 6th inviting the audience to join in discussion with him on Taiwan’s food and drink, popular culture, lifestyle, political phenomena, generation gap, and other social issues as part of the collection and collation of Taiwan’s “key words”.
The 2011 Asian Art Biennial weds cultural manifestations with artistic forms, featuring landscaping, local art, and workshop series, as well as paintings, installations, images, sound art, mobile art, and electronic sculptures, in hopes that through the display of Asia’s diverse and dynamic art, that viewers can fully appreciate the richness of Asian art. This exhibition holds its opening ceremony on the evening of September 30 at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and will officially open to the public on October 1. The exhibition also introduces the “2011 Asian Art and Curatorial Forum”: on October 1, “A Conversation with Artists” invites the artists participating in this year’s exhibition to analyze the relationship between their creative work and the current realities in Asia; on October 2, the “Curatorial Forum” assembles curators and scholars from Japan, Korea, Central Asia, and India to discuss and exchange their collective insights into the current state of Asian art.
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