Fri, Apr 22, 2005 - Page 14 News List

Art reaches out despite handicaps

By Susan Kendzulak  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Lin Hong-wen's sculpture peers out of a lotus pond at KMFA.

PHOTOS: SUSAN KENDZULAK

Despite sparse funding and the lack of a vigorous market for contemporary art, Taiwan is rich and abundant in visual and contemporary art.

A must-see exhibition recen-tly opened at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts. The Intertidal Zone Art Monitoring Station on view until May 29 is one of the six exhibitions that received a production grant for curators from The National Culture and Arts Foundation. The three curators Lu Ming-te (盧明德), Chang Sin-pi (張新丕) and Hsu Su-chen (許淑真) also are exhibiting their own art.

Of course having more than one curator for an exhibition can be a bit like having too many cooks spoiling the broth.

However, the environmentally themed exhibition with southern-based Taiwanese artists and Birmingham-based British artists moves logically from thought to thought, coalescing into a marvelous reverie about being alive and how we connect with other species.

One highlight is the interactive installation by Hsiao Sheng-chien (蕭聖健) that is creepy and highly erotic at the same time. A large, round projection of a blinking and watching eye triggered by movement sensors hovers near and follows the viewer.

The exhibition also shows that Hsu Su-chen is an incredible cultural entity as she perfects her dual role as artist and curator. Her project with the Pingtung Wildlife Sanctuary is a documentation of once-captive animals who show the signs of psychological stress disorders. She was recently nominated for the Taishin Art Awards for two of her exhibitions: a curated show combining theater and fine art and a solo art exhibition exploring the subject of conjoined twins.

The Taishin Art Awards created by the Taishin Bank Foundation for Arts and Culture awards an NT$1 million prize, inspiring people to realize their creative goals.

The Special Jury Award went to the Beautiful New Horizon Arts Involved Planning Hai-An Road, the one-year project on Tainan's Haian Road, where the sides of buildings on this famed road are canvases for art. The Visual Arts Award went to Shy Gong's Pilgrimage in Labyrinth, an exhibition of his neon-blinking betel-nut stands that was on view at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

According to the guidelines, the Taishin Art Awards competition is also open to artists who are not citizens of Taiwan but who have valid ARCs. However, none of the nominees were ARC-holders, and this makes one wonder when, or if, this allowance will ever be put into effect.

Are the Taishin Art Awards a platform for only promoting Taiwanese culture or will it recognize contributions of creative residents?

One highlight of the ceremony was when the presenter of the Performing Arts Award, Cloud Gate founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) looked straight at Chen Chi-nan (陳其南), the Minister of the Council of Cultural Affairs, and admonished the government's minimal financial support of the arts, expressing the ernest sentiment of those involved in the arts. Lin stated that if Taiwan wants to take a seat on the international stage, one strategy is to support and promote the arts as a type of cultural diplomacy. After the ceremony, many of those who work in the arts said they agreed with Lin's

comments.

As the Tainan award-winning project shows, public-art projects are one way to make art seem less elitist and as a way to bring the art directly to the masses. Currently on view until May 7 is the Utopia of Togetherness, a walking art tour in Taipei that begins at the Yuan Shan MRT station and includes 21 individual art projects. So from North to South, there are plenty of wonderful -- and free -- art exhibitions to see.

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