The mega-exhibition CO4: Taiwan Avant-Garde Documenta II: Nexus -- Next to Us! is a vastly ambitious undertaking organized by the National Cultural Association to showcase emerging artists in Taiwan, both locals and resident foreigners.
This is the second time such an exhibition has taken place. The first, two years ago, CO2: Taiwan Avant-Garde Documenta brought together 30 art groups and 47 individual artists exhibiting in four different venues. This time, several themes organized by seven curators showcase a huge number of artists in seven venues scattered about Taipei.
Generally speaking, ideas and metaphors are sorely lacking here. So expect to be entertained momentarily by the sculptures, paintings, videos and installations on display, but as soon as you get back on the MRT don't expect to think twice about the work. The absence of any profound thoughts raised in the exhibition is probably one of the thoughts you will walk away with.
In spite of this, there are two sites worth seeing. Media artist Yuan Goang-ming (袁廣鳴) makes his successful curatorial debut with Media Cramp and has juxtaposed well-known artists such as Chen Chieh-jen(陳界仁) with young, up-and-coming artists working with digital media.
Also highly recommended is Wang Jun-jieh's (王俊傑) new work at Lost Words curated by Wang Pin-hua (王品驊) at the Hong-Gah Museum. Slickly shot, the double-screen projection is very film-noirish, hinting at narrative, yet elusive and mysterious. If the CO4 organizers could bring all the artwork up to this level, then it would become one internationally-rated exhibition. Unfortunately, to the detriment of several outstanding works, amateurism outweighs professionalism and even experimentation.
Mei Dean-E (梅丁衍), who is an exceptional artist, is weak here as a curator. For Petting Creature Liberation at the Taipei County Administration Building, he chose good artists, but with the banal idea that they use animal imagery in their work. Walis Wu's extinct animal street signage is a very effective piece when it is installed on city streets as he, part Atayal, makes the point about colonialism and assimilation. Here, his signs are installed in a back courtyard, thus nullifying one of its strongest metaphors. This is one show to miss, as it is just plain awful.
State in Progress -- Penetration and Connection was curated by Chang Hui-lan (張惠蘭) and is at the National Cultural Association and National Taipei Teachers College Arts Center (also known as the Nanhai Gallery). Chang tries to showcase artists who live in the south, but the limited exhibition space makes all the work feel cramped together and confusing.
Leisure, Celebration, Blessing was curated by Pan Hsiao-hsueh (潘小雪) at the Downtown Campus of Soochow University. Being such a huge supporter of the arts, this writer does not want to sound negative or discourage artists from their practice. However, walking around this exhibition was a total dismal waste of time, with maybe the only noteworthy part being a good cafe that sells a nice hot cup of coffee.
At the time of this writing, the rest of the exhibition was being installed at the Hua Shan Cultural and Creative Industry Center, where Sale, Art, Exposition is curated by Li Szu-hsien (李思賢) and Fantasy and Object is curated by Shanghai-based curator Gu Zhenqing (顧振清). The shows at Hua Shan will run until Jan. 23.