Sun, Feb 20, 2005 - Page 19 News List

'Glocal' art attests to vibrant art scene

`Pseudo Hackers Art in Parallel Zones,' the first exhibition of the series `Curators in MOCA, 2005,' showcases artists who incorporate the local and global

By Susan Kendzulak  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Onion Hsu's illuminated plastic baskets.

PHOTO: SUSAN KENDZULAK

Contemporary art institutions in Taiwan are trying to improve the situation for local curators, because it's not only artists who play an integral part in an exhibition, but it is also the curator who, like the orchestra conductor, unites all the creative talents into one powerful dynamic.

The current series Curators in MOCA, 2005 at the Museum of Contemporary Art is showcasing separate exhibitions by four Taiwanese curators.

The first of the series, on view to March 20, is by JJ Shih (石瑞仁), who curated the Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1999. The misleading title Pseudo Hackers Art in Parallel Zones prepares one for an exhibition that is computer or digitally-based, but the exhibition is neither. The title refers to how the artist transcends reality just like the hacker.

Despite the title and vague curatorial statement, the exhibition is a good opportunity to see artists living in Taiwan who incorporate the local environment while also keeping a pulse on global contemporary culture. In art circles this is referred as the "glocal," meaning global plus local.

A strong tactile sense prevails along with strong artistic individuality. The exhibition includes some knockouts, though there are some misses. Yet it is that unevenness, that anti-slickness, that sets up a lively debate in one's mind. Energetic, fresh ideas emerge from the exhibition as it allows for a mental sparring in which the viewer can take great pleasure in discerning which art installations work and which ones don't -- the process that makes looking at art such great fun.

Some of the works use kitsch and consumerism as part of the vocabulary. Hong Yi's (洪易) credit card-encrusted facade of the building, using 120,000 cards, shimmers in the light, while indoors he shows his cutesy animal sculptures suspended in bird cages.

Onion Hsu's (徐揚聰) installation of lit-up, brightly colored plastic baskets and Shy Gong's (施工忠昊) interactive karaoke room capture the aura of local popular culture.

Su Hui-yu's (蘇匯宇) dramatic Endless Recalling shows various videos of the artist taking on stereotypical media roles, an area dominated by female artists, most notably Cindy Sherman. It is not common to see a male artist don a new persona as in this work, in which each character -- whether it is Rambo, a police officer, a librarian or a macabre figure -- is dramatically lit-up and eventually cries out the same lament: bu yao (不要).

The work parodies conventional media imagery and angst-ridden messages in art. It's a great example of work that embraces the local cultural context but can be read in the global context too, while also being simultaneously deep and light-hearted.

An artist from China, Zhou Xiaohu (周嘯虎), has a large double-screen projection of his hand-drawn animation titled Conspiracy that combines urgently drawn black images with real footage.

Some works seemed to be indirectly influenced by the popular bestseller The Da Vinci Code, as several of the installations incorporated spiritual symbols begging to be decoded. Maybe it is unintentional, but it is difficult to look at such mysterious symbols without thinking of the influential book.

Chen Hui-chiao's (陳慧嶠) lenticular lightboxes inset in a dark floor shows a bird in flight embedded with various symbols such as the Star of David.

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