First conceived in early 2016, Yao Jui-chung's "Incarnation" series covers more than 230 temples, cemeteries, public gardens, and amusement parks, photographed within one and a half years in an intensive manner, featuring the statues of deities created by the Han people by reference to their self-images. Some of these statues are toppled, while others remain standing. Carefully observing these statues, namely the objects of people’s psychological projection, one may further grasp the endemic political relations in different geographical spaces.
The artist evades narrative by intentionally leaving out people in each frame, shunning religious gatherings or festivities. He focuses on the physical embodiment of the gods — a projection of devotees’ fervent desire. Adopting a typological approach, he captures not the local folk culture, but the landscape that cradles the staggering statues; not unusual cases but mundane existence. Devoid of humans, events, or disasters, this body of work explores the manifestation of human wants in a clinical approach that eschews religious architecture, folk activities, or worship ceremonies. In a dispassionate, monotone palette, this new photography series scrutinizes the inextricable connections between man, religion, and faith.
The desires of the multitudes shape the explicit forms of these colossal statues of deities. However, these materialized forms are every bit as illusory as dreams and bubbles, since emptiness is the nature of tattva, or ultimate reality. Yao Jui-chung captures the absurdity of deity statues against the urban backdrop, where the interconnecting relationships between deities and humans resonate to the mundane desires that are at once vacant and lusty. Distilling a sense of beauty in the monotone palette, the 300 images document the sensualist society with clinical detachment.
In addition to the array of 300 gelatin silver prints that portray the human desire, a three-channel video installation of Incarnation is also on view, where the rising and falling tones of the complex radio spectrum of Saturn recorded by NASA transport the viewer to the mystical universe. Deities of all stripes on the three screens instantiate the intertwining relationship between history and society. Evoking a road movie, the video installation deconstructs and repaints the landscape of Taiwan, suffused with a magical divinity interspersed with sentient yearnings.
There is also a performance by sound artist Dawang Yingfan Huang and musician Meuko! Meuko!, who is known in Japan and Taiwan for her experimental approach to electronic music. Conceived as a modern version of religious tribute to the gods, the collaboration reassembles the visual and sound elements of a traditional temple fair and conjures an organic performance that manifests Taiwanese cultural and religious beliefs.
Grantee: Jui-Chung Yao
Wu Chi-Tsung has participated in the artist-in-residency program co-organized by Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture and the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Germany. From November 16th to December 10th, 2017, the program will present his solo exhibition “Far From East” at Berlin, showcasing his recent works, including installations, photography, and videos.
In Wu Chi-Tsung’s early works, he utilized media art to discuss the fundamentals of images and seeing. In recent years, he expanded his research field, traversing through the field of culture and art from East to West, as well as integrating traditional aesthetics and contemporary artistic concepts. In his dialectics and diverse way of practices, his artworks nonetheless preserved the sensibility and romance of an oriental literatus.
The exhibition begins with “Crystal City,” giving the audiences a glimpse of the artist’s point of view. Under the radiating light, the sharp and clear shadows of the ordinary plastic boxes became distinct, projecting a view resembling a concrete jungle of skyscrapers. In this artwork, Wu Chi-Tsung observes the ambiguous boundary between reality and fantasy, questioning as the cyber space took a major part in our daily lives, then what is real, and what is illusory?
“Wrinkled-Texture” and “Cyano-Collage” redefine the junction of photography and painting. The photography series “Wrinkled-Texture” is inspired by the “texturing method”, which is the core technique of Chinese literati painting. Cultivating the technique and the spirit of calligraphy, artists draw down a representational depiction of mountains and stones, which serve as the projection of his inner-thoughts. In “Wrinkled Texture”, Wu utilized cyanotype techniques to apply a photosensitive emulsion on Chinese rice papers, and then exposed the hand-wrinkled papers under the sunlight. After washing off extra emulsion, the shades and the patterns of the wrinkled papers were documented. The complete imagery resembles Chinese landscape – Shan Shui, which Wu substitutes ink and brush with photogram. “Cyano-Collage” inherits the cyanotype photography “Wrinkled-Texture.” The exposed rice papers were collaged into mountains, allowing the artist to further probe into the aesthetics of traditional paintings.
Lastly, the artwork “Still-Life 006 – Chrysanthemum” translates the traditional cut-branch flower painting into a time based moving image. As a video installation, the piece is projected on a hanging scroll, suggesting an outlying and ephemeral scenery that is akin to a vaguely fleeting memory. “Still-Life” series is originated from the artist’s awe to contemporary art and his nostalgia to traditional art.
Given the dominance role of European and American culture in globalization, contemporary art has been rapidly expanding, revolutionizing and innovating. However, it is disconnected to local traditional cultural contexts, increasing the disappearance of unique regional arts and aesthetics. Raised under traditional art cultivation, Wu Chi-Tsung is deeply aware of such disconnection. In his recent artworks, Wu has been finding the possible balance between Eastern and Western cultures, as well as traditional and contemporary art.
The term “Far East” is a Eurocentric geographical concept. Yet, in a globalized epoch, Far East is no longer far away, and the East is no longer east.
Grantee: Chi-Tsung Wu
Formosa: the Beautiful. In the 16th century, when approaching the coast of a verdant island, the Portuguese sailors exclaimed with admiration, "Formosa,” later to be the former name of Taiwan. Inspired by the abstract beauty born from land and lore, Lin Hwai-min's new creation FORMOSA for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan uses gesture, script and song to create a lustrous universe--a playground of love and life, mediated by tragedy, hope, and rebirth--against a backdrop projected with Chinese characters coming together and breaking down like waves to imply writing as a precarious vehicle for memories. A coproduction of National Performing Arts Center – National Theater & Concert Hall, Taiwan, R.O.C.; National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying), Taiwan, R.O.C.; Sadler's Wells, London, UK; Theatre de la Ville – Paris, France; and Carolina Performing Arts, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA; FORMOSA is already scheduled to be presented in USA, Germany, UK, France, Portugal, Russia and more in 2018 and 2019.
Grantee: Cloud Gate Dance Theatre
Following the works K24 and Q&A, talented storyteller TSAI Pao-chang presents the epic The Book of Fate Trilogy One: The Lost Wings. Forced into the sex trade as a stowaway, the heroine struggles with yearnings for her mother and increasing illusions in her mind before discovering her unusual powers. Seeking to recreate the realms of heaven, earth, and the underworld, this production employs a nonlinear narrative to impart the journey of a hero's return, addressing issues of discrimination against differences in religion, race, class, or sexual orientation.
Grantee: Pao-Chang Tsai