Sun, Sep 26, 2004 - Page 19 News List

New MOMA show exhibits a political agenda

A collection of photos and performance art aims to show the futility of war and its adverse effects

By Diana Freundl  /  STAFF REPORTER

A photo documentary of Lin Ju's performance art titled The Meaning of Messiah-Christ of the Fish-Eye on exhibit at MOMA in Taipei.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TAIPEI MOMA GALLERY

Wearing a shirt and tie and a black mask, Lin Ju (林鉅) carried a cross covered in dead fish from Danshui to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in the fall of 2002. When he arrived at the museum he put down the cross, covered it in salt and proceeded to destroy it with an axe. Later he collected the remains, placed them in a cross-shaped box and carried it back to Danshui. The event was a performance art demonstration by Lin entitled Memorial Day and can now be viewed in a photo exhibition by Yu Wei-te (于維德) at Taipei MOMA until the end of October.

The project between the two artists took place over 10 days, marking the first anniversary of the 9/11 attack in the US and the third anniversary of the 9/21 earthquake in Taiwan.

It was an artistic statement on Lin's part concerning the relationship between natural disasters and those resulting from human actions. It leaves the viewers to contemplate just how intertwined and similar the two are, not only in how they affect people's lives, but also in their causes: humans create war, war destroys the environment and nature fights back.

There are five large black-and-white portraits of Lin, each capturing a stage in his ritual-like journey. Alongside the portraits is a more detailed sequence of small photos outlining his artistic voyage. Playing on a screen in a corner of the room is Michael Moore's critique of the Bush administration, Fahrenheit 9/11.

In the back room is a separate photo statement by Yu that highlights an earlier performance piece by Lin titled State of Severance. In the first image we see Lin wearing only a black bag over his head and lying on the floor inside a large box at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. With only a chair, cross and stack of white paper, the inside of the box is meant to represent the tomb of an artist.

According to the text provided at the gallery, the spirit of the naked man lying inside the tomb has left his human form and is now roaming the historical landmarks of Taipei.

As in the first piece, Yu and Lin combine symbols of religion, history, nationalism and art in the photos. Contrasting these ideologies with images of death and sacrifice, the artists appear to be questioning the permanence and credibility of dogma. Although the images are few in both exhibits, the thoughts they evoke are powerful, proving the lasting power of good performance art.

Performance art is something the public will be seeing more of at MOMA in the coming months. The gallery's curator Joanne Huang (黃其玟) is preparing to highlight Taiwan's contemporary performance artists in her upcoming exhibitions. She is also working on a book together with other critics and artists outlining the history of the art form in Taiwan, which is scheduled to be released next year.

Exhibition Notes:

What: Photo Testimony by Yu Wei-Te based on the performance art works Memorial Day and State of Severance by Lin Ju.

Where: Taipei MOMA Gallery (畫廊) at 3F, 19, Lane 252, Dunhua S Rd. Sec 1, Taipei (台北市大安區敦化南路一段252巷19號3樓)

Telephone: (02) 8771 3372

When: Until Oct. 25

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