After a slow year in Taiwan's contemporary art scene, the month of November seems to be catching up with a plenitude of exhibitions, some of them eminently noteworthy.
Chang Chien-chi (張乾琦), the well-known Magnum photographer based in New York, shows new work that is of a more personal nature than previously. In the age of digital imagery, where the results can be determined immediately, Chang chose another route to challenge himself as a photographer by shooting one roll of film and to exhibit its entire sequence without editing out any shots. Chang planned out the sequence of shots beforehand so that each shot would contain great narrative depth and he displays the contact sheets showing the chronological order of events. This way of working creates a diary and an ongoing documentation of his life, and the pre-planned storyboards help to slow down the process of just pointing and shooting. In other words, Chang deliberately slowed himself down to observe life unfolding in its natural rhythms rather than being led by the hyper-pace of life as we generally live it.
IT Park, now entering its second decade, is showing the work of Peng Hung-chih (彭弘智). Peng plays with the idea of DOG/GOD by compiling sculptures, photos and videos in his solo exhibition titled Beware of God.
Two videos show a dog licking a blank wall to reveal religious texts that seem to suddenly appear as if the dog is revealing the words. The trouble is these works tend to be gimmicky and come off as one-liners. Once you get the "joke" there is nothing deeper to contemplate.
In God Pound over 600 "misfortune gods" are gathered together, all facing the same direction. Many of these statues were abandoned like stray dogs, as they failed to answer their owner's prayers. These unfortunate "misfortune gods" all stare at the real god: TV.
What: The Map by Chang Chien-chiWhere: Chi-Wen Gallery, 3F, 19, Ln 252, Tunhua S Rd Sec 1, Taipei (台北市大安區敦化南路一段252巷19號3樓). Tel: (02) 8771-3372When: Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 7pm. Until Dec. 30
What: Beware of God by Peng Hung-chihWhere: IT Park, 2F, 41 Yitong St, Taipei (台北市伊通街41號2樓). Tel: (02) 2507-7243When: Tuesday to Saturday, 1pm to 10pm. Until Dec. 16
What: Mama's Boy by Tania NybergWhere: Pethany + Larsen, 2F, 30, Ln 45, Liaoning St, Taipei (台北市遼寧街45巷30號2樓). Tel: (02) 8772-5005When: 11am-7pm. Until Jan. 28
The most fun work to be seen is at one of Taipei's strangest art venues, Pethany + Larsen, which bills itself as offering " lifestyle and living accessories." The first floor displays bath towels and handmade soap, while the second floor gallery is a space where one can sip tea and hang out and read magazines and look at art. On view are small photo prints by Tania Nyberg, a Norwegian photographer based in Los Angeles. The exhibition title Mama's Boy says it all. She photographed single men from around the world who prefer to live with their mothers. Shot against a floral background, the photos make the viewer really think about these men. In one shot, a wall text identifies the bearded Jesus-look-alike as Shady, shot against a faux fur leopard background, living in Israel. These are often hilarious works, but may also make one think deeper about society, gender roles and the economy.