201610040031我們如何在一起 / Together
阿讓的「NIKE Project」源自他圍繞著家族成員發展的「家景計畫」，其中亦帶有他一向對物質身世的高度敏感。同樣有著勝利女神飛彈在場的兩張照片映現出不同的視野，在作為國慶閱兵典禮的紀錄裡它們是展現武力的內容，而在藝術家的父親與同袍的日常合影裡它們是生命經驗的背景。在另一個命名為《三璽》（Three Seals）的裝置作品裡，藝術家將製作三枚圖文印石，內容是勝利女神飛彈從「升起」、「於天空中」，到「作廢」的生命歷程∕歷史階段，然而用以製作這組權力象徵物的卻是取自緬甸礦石業者捨棄的剩餘材料，作為一種物質性的證言，這組裝置中的每個部位都保有或描繪著歷史變遷的軌跡。
I have always hoped to make an exhibition like a game.
This started with an invitation from Galerie Pierre, which has held annual curated exhibitions for many years. I was commissioned to curate this exhibition, and it involved certain expectations, such as when it would happen, the location, and a list of other conditions set forth by the gallery. The gallery also anticipated that the exhibition would somehow respond to the theme “architecture and art.” Since expectations are both opportunities and restrictions, they perfectly establish an essential condition of games. As long as I followed the rules, I could start playing the game in whatever way I felt was most interesting.
The Galerie Pierre's parent organization, Treasure Dragon Corporation, has been in the construction business in central Taiwan for 27 years. Choosing architecture and art as an exhibition theme reflects two of their long-term interests. Regarding this rather broad starting point, I realized architecture and exhibitions shared a fundamental element: space, which is something I have always found particularly interesting, whether it is in art or elsewhere. Due to another precondition, the venue being housed on three floors, one of which is a basement level, I started forming a spatial plan in my mind where each space would present one artist for a total of three artists in the exhibition.
Wang Te-Yu's specialty is inflatable soft sculptures, which transform the spaces they occupy through interactivity and sustained variations in their form, material, and color, like space inside space. Tu Wei uses widely different methods to make viewers aware of space and unique properties of space that they had not noticed before. Since 2005, Chin Cheng-Te has been erecting commemorative tablets in Taiwan's mountains, forests and fields to reinterpret historical or contemporary situations. He places them so that they are come upon unexpectedly, and in places that have witnessed change over time.
My core concept for the exhibition is the diverse ways in which artists present their thinking about space through art practices. But as the idea arose, I felt that concentrating on it alone would weaken the game quality of the exhibition, so I introduced collaboration, another idea I was interested in exploring. Also, at the very least, artists can realize their art practices in an exhibition, but the curator often feel anxious about how to make an exhibition involving multiple artists and their works into a single piece.
Not wanting to violate the premise of letting the artists develop their own artwork, I asked them to choose their own collaborators and then make an agreement with that person. When setting this as a condition of participating in the exhibition, I was surprised to discover that the artists were willing to accept it and even found it interesting. It actually created worry and excitement while waiting for answers from the artists and seemed like a detour, but it made possible the realization of something that would have been impossible following a more traditional path. After the artists told me that they had found collaborators, a community of different collaborative groups formed, and it was not until all of us came together as a group that the next part of the game got underway.
Tu Wei and Hsieh Ta-Liang: The time and space we share
Tu Wei thought that being able to choose a collaborator was the most unique aspect of the exhibition. While he considered the artists he was familiar with on the list, he decided to stick with his first choice—his friend Hsieh Ta-Liang, who had never made art before. Foremost but not his only reason for choosing him was that “doing it this way is more special.”
Ta-Liang had never been an artist but was no stranger to art. At the end of the 1990s, he started lending his electronics and programming skills to Tu Wei and other artist friends when they needed help with exhibitions, as well as chatting with friends about the nature and definition of art. A more recent example is the assistance he gave Tu Wei with a solo exhibition last year. (1) Just like he always had, Ta-Liang agreed to help without giving it much thought.
Tu Wei had faith in his collaborator's ability to make a work without difficulty. The key point was how to make a piece that could become art. What happened later did not deviate from Tu Wei's expectations. Ta-Liang's thinking is based in the field he is most familiar with—audio engineering, which covers everything related to sound and is both Ta-Liang's profession and interest. After I raised some questions about the space, Ta-Liang started thinking about the sounds that would be in the venue at the time the artwork would be occupying it. He later decided he would create a live broadcast in which sound would play the leading role after surveying the space. The sounds would be those continually generated elsewhere but impossible to hear when in the area surrounding the artwork, as well as those background noises that are difficult to hear under normal circumstances. In addition, the concept of a live broadcast will make it possible for the audience to be able to receive a sound that is unique to that moment, both irreversible and non-repetitive, as is all our time experience.
Tu Wei's project amply demonstrates the possibility of arriving at completely different places from the same starting point. It seems like a live broadcast, the content of which is the space that he (with Ta-Liang) has taken over. With Ta-Liang's technical assistance, Tu Wei uses motorized pan heads to move two leveling lasers spaced in such a way that their crossing laser beams continually traverse every surface in the venue. In order to satisfy the desire to observe what cannot be seen with the naked eye, leveling lasers are commonly used at construction sites and to install exhibitions. “They seem to be looking for something,” Tu Wei said of those remarkable horizontal and vertical lines as they move around the space. With this same movement, the artist guides us to previously unnoticed corners. The lasers demonstrate a sight beyond our sight, and we see them as they are continually looking.
In this space still in its imagined phase that will gradually be realized, there are two phenomena that can be clearly perceived: sound and moving image. They do not intersect with each other, possibly even providing backgrounds for each other, and also continuously filling this otherwise nearly empty space. This creates the expectation of viewers startled to discover they are in the work, not outside looking in.
Chin Cheng-Te and Liu Ho-Jang: What do we remember?
Chin Cheng-Te decided on his project and collaborator at practically the same time. At the end of 2014, Liu Ho-Jang invited Cheng-Te to hold a solo exhibition at mt.black art space, which Ho-Jang operates. The invitation included studio space and the funds and labor needed for the exhibition. Nothing was expected in return, and not just because they had been friends since middle school. When planning the mt.black solo exhibition, Ho-Jang discussed doing a project based on the goddess Nike because his father had served in the military at Taiwan's Nike Missile installation. Cheng-Te added that after the U.S. developed such super weapons following World War II, they were deployed in Taiwan, which is ample evidence of the U.S. and Taiwan's Cold War relationship. This casual discussion inspired Cheng-Te's Cold War Island series in his mt.black solo exhibition. (2)
Based on this experience, Cheng-Te invited Liu Ho-Jang to collaborate on the exhibition at Galerie Pierre and further develop themes related to the Cold War period in Taiwan. When Cheng-Te initiated the collaboration, Ho-Jang mentioned his Nike Project. (3) Since Galerie Pierre is located in Taichung, Cheng-Te decided to create his Cold War Island—Taichung Pass series base on the Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, which played a decisive role during the Cold War. Stone tablets fabricated for the artwork would first be exhibited at the gallery, and then after the exhibition closed, placed at predetermined locations in the Taichung area to complete the project. I find the story of a certain woman in the work, someone I had never heard of before, to be especially poignant.
The woman in question was a Taichung bar girl whose brutal murder was reported in an April 22, 1972 newspaper. Her body was discovered in an apartment and showed obvious signs of torture. According to the police investigation, a corporal in the U.S. military named Ronald A. Lutz reported her death to the police and was suspected of being involved. In 1950, the Republic of China Government in exile on Taiwan started relying on the United States for assistance in confronting the Mainland communist government, and consistently garrisoned large troops of American soldiers in Taiwan, who all enjoyed diplomatic immunity. This disturbing incident under these unique social conditions still resulted in a prison sentence for Lutz, but litigation exceeded three years, and because the person involved was in the U.S. military, exceptions had to be made. This case is just one example of countless similar incidents. (4)
Cheng-Te believes raising the name Lin Wei-Ching suggests a revisionist undertaking based on individuals whose stories have been lost to the greater expanse of history. For the Galerie Pierre show, he chose a place to erect a tablet dedicated to Lin Wei-Ching and women who have met similar fates. Also, after learning that the Taichung Ching Chuan Kang Airport was named for General Chiu Ching-Chuan who died in battle, he sought an unnamed hilltop in Taichung to erect a tablet that named the hill Wei Ching Kang. He wanted to commemorate Lin’s life, which was also inscribed with a period of national history.
Ho-Jang's Nike Project originated from his work Home Landscape, which is centered on family members and involves his consistently acute sensitivity to materiality. Similarly, two photographs of Nike missiles reflect two different fields of vision: in a commemorative photograph of a military procession on National Day, the missiles represent military power; but in a group portrait of the artist's father and his fellow soldiers, they represent the background of their life experience. For an installation work titled Three Seals, the artist engraved patterns on three stones which concerns the history of a missile from launch and flight to becoming refuse. However, manufacturing Ho-Jang's symbols of power actually required collecting leftover materials from mining companies in Myanmar. Together, these objects serve as a testament in the installation, as their every aspect either retains or portrays historical changes.
Wang Te-Yu and Chen Hui-Chiao: We think this way looks better
Wang Te-Yu indicated right away that she wanted to collaborate with Chen Hui-Chiao. She was already very busy and would only participate in the exhibition if Chiao could be her collaborator. This sentiment between them has been ongoing since being invited to participate in a group show at the end of last year. (5) The curator for that show had arranged for them to exhibit separately in the largest space in the venue. They discussed what each would make and what was possible until they realized, much to their dismay, that the opening day was coming. They then decided that making something together would make things go more quickly, and the result was well received.
It could be seen that their collaboration was really quite simple. Te-Yu made an inflatable sculpture for the venue and Chiao made a double bed covered in orange ping-pong balls. They did not, however, install their work in the most reasonable way for a group exhibition, which is to be sure there is enough space between works so they do not interfere with each other. Chiao put the double bed deep inside the inflated sculpture. This simple action encouraged visitors to enter the inflatable sculpture, thus making the work more interactive and heightening the quality of play. The medium and form of Te-Yu and Chiao's works were completely different, but both belong to pure perceptual abstraction. This kind of arrangement more or less altered the primary experience of each artwork while unexpectedly generating completely new perceptions.
During this experience that made them very interested in collaborating again, on-site decisions exceeded those made in advance, which is why they did not hesitate to abandon their original ideas at Galerie Pierre. When we inspected the venue for the first time they changed their plan “because the space was very different from what we had imagined.” According to Te-Yu, their practices never deviated from responding to the site or from creating artwork in the venue. Therefore, writing this before they enter the Galerie Pierre to start working, I know Te-Yu will definitely have an inflatable sculpture that perfectly fits the dimensions of the space, and Chiao will definitely have a custom set of ping-pong balls and metal panels. They chose to continue a series they had worked on before, which had enough potential to be developed in any space. Furthermore, the contrast between the works is already precisely imagined regarding materials, forms, colors, installation strategies, and titles. Their collaboration is a little like a visual orchestral composition, and an on-site installation they think perfectly suits the space.
Who told you we can be together?
Exploring the thoughts and actions that arise at the moment when “I” becomes conscious of “us” was an original intention of planning this exhibition. I certainly learned things from interviewing each pair of artists and watching the exhibition take shape, which would have been impossible to learn from only visiting the completed exhibition.
The frequent and intense discussions that occurred between Tu Wei and Ta-Liang as they were preparing for the exhibition made Tu Wei feel that he should be actively taking care of his friend, and yet he wanted to be vigilant about not letting his concern impact Ta-Liang's autonomy. This minor yet continual feeling of anxiety made Tu Wei realize that he is “a little like an assistant curator” in this exhibition. After Ho-Jang's participation was confirmed, Cheng-Te no longer had to worry about how to fill in his exhibition space. When Ho-Jang was developing his own project, he thought carefully about how to use meaningful materials and display strategies to incorporate his own and Cheng-Te's work in the venue. On the day that Chiao inspected the space, she mocked me by repeating, “Who told you we could be together?” Later, besides deliberately placing work in the stairwells to draw visitors to the basement and second floor, Chiao made a work titled “Between Us.”
I think these seemingly trivial but also moving events were deeply inspiring. Everyone's striving directed toward fulfilling one's own and one's partner's needs, exceptional friendships unique to the creative realm, and a collective will to perfect every “I” existed. And in this feeling of awareness of each other, the artists transformed three spaces into artworks.
Everything produced over the course of this experience, including an individual's artwork, a space created by two, or the entire exhibition created by the seven of us, satisfied each individual's need for self realization. This project also created a richness of expression that awaits visitors and new friends. The possibility of “us” being formed in a future space will encourage artists to always want to play another game.
This article was written before the exhibition was installed. (September 29, 2016)
1. A Solo Exhibition by Tu Wei: NOT YET!, IT Park Gallery, August 1 to 29, 2015.
2. Refrigerated Abstract: Qin Zheng De Solo Exhibition, mt.black, October 6, 2014 to January 31, 2015.
3. The Nike Guided Missile was part of an air defense system created by the United States. Frequently referred to as Nike, which means victory, the system took its name from the goddess of the Greek myth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Nike
4. Details of Lin Wei Ching's case can be found in the article Women naxie beimeijun jianshade jiemeimen [Our sisters who have been raped and murdered by American soldiers] written by cultural critic Kuan Jen-Chien. http://mypaper.pchome.com.tw/kuan0416/post/1313635815
5. Considerate Creations, Curated by Lee I-Hua, Taipei Artist Village, Barry Room, October 31 to November 29, 2015.