What do you see? Taiwan Art Bank's Contemporary Art Exhibition Brings New Vision to Taiwan Academy in New York
What do you see? Taiwan Art Bank’s Contemporary Art Exhibition Brings New Vision to Taiwan Academy in New York
Taiwan Art Bank, a Ministry of Culture initiative, works with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to launch What do you see?, an exhibition of Taiwanese contemporary art, at the Taiwan Academy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York. Launched in 2013, Taiwan Art Bank is undertaken by the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts to promote— through art leasing—domestic and international support for Taiwanese art creation. It has acquired 1795 art pieces for its collection, hoping to be a facilitator for Taiwan’s cultural diplomacy. Cultural diplomacy is to convey a county’s values and to influence others quietly using soft power. achieving the goal of friendly diplomacy by increasing other countries’ knowledge about and understanding of one’s culture.
What do you see? starts with the exploration of “seeing” and focuses on life, interpersonal relationships, cultural differences, and the way we see things. The pieces in this exhibition are the past, present, and future seen by seven Taiwanese artists, reflecting their way of seeing, conceptualizing, and imagining in an era of globalization and a time where medium is message. Viewers are encouraged to change their position and their usual, visually-numbing perspective in order to see things differently and think about the various realities in contemporary life.
Artists explore seeing and create a visual world, while we produce meanings through seeing. By comparing our understanding with the points of view in artworks, we as viewers read cultural influences on ourselves and/or others, and examine how we and/or others exoticize cultures. We watch contemporary human interactions and reverse our habitual way of seeing. Looking at Taiwan’s history and current cultural environments, HOU I-Ting explores our unfamiliarity with the cultures of our own country in a time when global cultures blend together. TU Pei-Shih excels in showing in her animations the relationships between imaginations, threats, and contemporary societies, responding to conflicts and absurdities in life with fictional and imagined narratives. Exploring Taiwanese folk cultures, CHEN Qing-Yao’s work is a parody of the explorers in Discovery-like channels, and of the Western media’s way of seeing things. YEH Yi-Li’s pieces are reconstructed memories of seeing. Combining blue-and-white pottery with toy blocks, the sculptures—a mixture of Eastern and Western cultures—depict and add a sense of unreality in memories. They interpret the cultural hybridity born out of the heterogeneous contemporary society and continuously reconstruct what we understand as real. The seen reality may not be the reality, so LIAO Yu-An watches the tensed and delicate daily interaction between city dwellers and put it in his work, creating a subtle, almost paranoid metaphor. The archeology sites in CHANG Teng-Yuan’s series of works come from his observation of popular cultures and environments in our time. Logically fictitious and thus realistically imaginative, the art pieces show Earth in the future from the perspective of a group of parrot men—fictional characters in CHANG’s series. Looking into our usual way of seeing, YUAN Goang-Ming’s works are like an image experiment about the shooting, the objects being shot, and the viewers. It makes the viewers look out of the visual box and rethink about their visual perception models and the spatial relationships created by images.
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