Sun, Oct 03, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Taiwan's artists shine at Shanghai show

Much like the biennale itself, the selection of works from the four Taiwanese artists varies in terms of content and message

By Diana Freundl  /  STAFF REPORTER

Humanoids in bubbles float in an otherworldly space in Hung Tong-lu's Nirvana.


Like a magnifying glass on the artistic community of a host city, an international biennale also draws attention to the artistic movements taking place in various countries around the word.

Under the theme, Techniques of the Visible, the Fifth Shanghai Biennale brings the work of four Taiwanese artists to the notice of the international art community.

More than 100 artists were selected to participate in the event, which proved slightly daunting at times, but provided a comprehensive display of work using a variety of media.

Focusing on the visual products of modern technology within a historical and cultural context, the theme of the biennale, the curators write, "Suggests that artistic practice engaging with technology is inherently placing itself within a historical continuum, where cultural metaphor becomes critical to its understanding."

Widely known for his macabre digitally altered photos, Chen Chieh-jen's (陳界仁) work at the biennale is a film piece familiar to many viewers in Taiwan.

Factory is a 30-minute silent mockumentry about the closing of textile factories during the 1990s in Taiwan. The slow pacing of the film recreates the painfully methodic monotony of an average workday.

Images of time are also depicted in Chen Shun-chu's photography installation, Memories in the Wind: A Hundred-Year Harmony. Using an enlarged black-and-white family portrait of his uncle's wedding, taken when he was a child, Chen comments on the relationship between image and memory.

The photo has been cut into several pieces of identical size, each of which has been framed and put back together on a wall. Some of the framed images have been taken out and placed on the floor. A few of the frames have no images, while others are filled with faces from people in the larger photo suggesting that images can retrieve some memories but others are lost in time.

Employing photography and 3D optical effects, Hong Tung-lu's (洪東祿) light-box images take a less sentimental and more critical look at the relationship between society and consumerism.

Sitting in the lotus position inside a bubble, the animated-computer game like bodhisattvas move their arms and legs to assume other Buddhist positions. With no obvious sex or ethnicity the images appear to make a satirical statement about popular culture's commercialization of ideologies, in this case religion.

Taiwan-born artist Lin Shu-min, who now lives in New York, created one of the most talked about works at the biennale. Extremely intelligent and intuitive, Lin's interactive installation titled Hypnosis Project No. I & II attempts to take viewers on a journey into their subconscious.

Stepping inside the various rooms that the artist has made for the viewer to walk in and through, the doors of perception have been opened, in a similar fashion to what one might experience when experimenting with psychedelic substances.

Much like the biennale itself, the selection of work from the four Taiwanese artists varies in its content and message, but each is equally creatively simulating.

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