Sun, Jan 02, 2005 - Page 19 News List

A gallery of the good, the bad and the ugly

The year's visual art scene provided moments of enlightenment but left room for improvement

By Susan Kendzulak  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

The Bunker Museum of Contemporary Art in Kinmen.

PHOTO: SUSAN KENDZULAK

It's that time of the year: the end of the year when many publications take a fond look and assess the year's achievements and failures. And so, with no further ado, the Taipei Times takes a look at some of the highs and lows in Taiwan's contemporary art for the year 2004.

Glorious epiphanies

1. Who needs curators anyway? Some of the best exhibitions in Taiwan were organized by local artists, which only helped to prove the point that decisions about art should mainly be left up to artists. Yao Jui-chung (姚瑞中) worked with Beijing-based curator Zhu Qi to bring "Spellbound Aura: Chinese Contemporary Photography" to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Overall the exhibition was vivid and sassy. Wang Jun-jieh's (王俊傑) Navigator: Digital Art in the Making at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts brought together European digital artists to dialogue with experimental sound artists from Taiwan. Hsu Su-Chen's (許素真) curatorial debut City Odysseys: Loosing and Lost at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (KMFA) juxtaposed the work of artists with two theater groups, to create a provocative discourse about the idea of staging an d presentation.

2. The Bunker Museum of Contemporary Art in Kinmen (formerly known as Quemoy) was also organized by an artist. Cai Guo-Qiang (蔡國強) who is well-known for his dynamite performances created a memorable opening of art installed in abandoned bunkers.

3. Treasure Hill is one of the great jewels of Taipei City. Near National Taiwan University, this cluster of unassuming ramshackle homes that overlooks the Hsindian River was also home to a very inspiring art residency program.

4. Art can be fun. Artist Huang Shih-chieh's (黃世傑) Taipei Artist Village foyer installation consisted of fluorescent tubes of liquid and yapping toys which created an exuberant, exaggerated atmosphere.

5. The debut of artist Peng Hung-Chih's (彭弘智) "Little Danny" at the KMFA was a sight to behold. His 4.5m guard dog consisted of 3,000 little dog toys that collectively barked when one entered the room.

6. Artist residencies, both here and abroad were such a boon to the artists who participated in them. At the beginning of the year, there was a British-Taiwan exchange. Programs like these act as a kind of cultural diplomacy.

7. Ava Hsueh's (薛保瑕) solo painting show Flowing Codes at IT Park Gallery showed that one could make work about digital technology without actually using it.

San Francisco's Asian Art Museum hosted Spaces Within featuring Wu Mali's (吳瑪俐) interactive "Follow the Dreamboat" and Michael Lin's (林明弘) large floral floor paintings.

8. The openings/renovations of some new art spaces such as Taipei MOMA and Taichung's National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts provided fresh perspectives and viewing areas.

9. And let's give a "yo" out to the alternative weekly paper POTs which became more bilingual this year and focuses on local cultural events quite well.

The biggest bombs

1. Do we really need another coffee shop? How do we keep up with the chaotic changes at government-funded cultural venues such as the Taipei Artist Village and Huashan?

2. The Auckland Triennial and Shanghai Biennial included some Taiwanese artists; however, these major exhibitions were rather lackluster, so who cares.

3. Again another digital show, the "Digital Sublime: New Masters of the Universe" at MOCA was heavy on the technology and light on the substance.

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