Film used to be focused on the cinema screen but today it is on the computer, in art spaces and even at the National Palace Museum (國立故宮博物院). What once was a place solely for antiquities now shows cutting-edge installations or art that happens to have film as its medium.
Discovering the Other opens tomorrow at the NPM and is part of the World View Cinema Series III that began last year with the French Film Festival and was followed up with Sound of Silence in September.
The works are from seven international artists, including the ubiquitous Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮), and will be exhibited in the NPM Exhibition Hall II. Starting July 18 there will be screenings of their short films in the Auditorium.
Curated by Gertjan Zuilhof, Dutch programmer of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the event is "about individuals, such as artists, who approach a worldwide network of phenomena to find the Other person."
This has been further summarized by the organizers as being, "How foreign stays foreign. The great theme of our time."
"The selection was a bit of a balance, showing international artists, including those from Taiwan itself. The main point was the quality of the work; I could trust they would come up with something special," said Zuilhof, taking a 10-minute break from setting up the exhibition earlier this week.
Though the title - Discovering the Other - sounds like a convenient hook and the works commissioned have a range of themes, it does work.
Australian Merilyn Fairskye, for example, has a global approach and her piece States of Mind films airports around the world.
"You wouldn't know where they are, they could be anywhere and this shows how internationalized the world looks, though the airports are obviously local," Zuilhof said
Where: National Palace Museum, at 221 Zhishan Rd Sec 2, Taipei (台北市至善路二段221號)
Film installations: Tomorrow to Aug. 19, at Exhibition Hall II
Film showings: July 18 to Aug. 19, at the Auditorium
Colloquium: Artists will meet the audience tomorrow 2pm to 4pm, in the Auditorium
Colloquium: Curator Gertjan Zuilhof will meet the audience 2pm to 4pm, on Sunday in the Auditorium
Admission: All events are free of charge
Further information: www.npm.gov.tw/events/96events/installations
This is the international hotel theory of travel, where you go from one look-a-like foyer or room to another and local culture is peripheral. Here the Other is the same.
The US' Deborah Stratman, on the other hand, presents Four Act Balance, which explores the interplay of modern Chinese influence over Muslim Uygur tradition by looking at tightrope walkers, both as subjects and as a metaphor. Here we discover the Other is different.
Austrian artist Edgar Honetschlager's witty Beijing Holiday takes another angle, by celebrating individualism and cultural diversity. Based on the Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday and substituting himself for Gregory Peck, the artist tours China's capital with a blowup doll of Song Mei-ling (宋美齡).
In one of the funniest scenes Song holds Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) Red Book while standing in Tiananmen Square. According to the artist, his Japanese cameraman had to convince guards the doll represented his grandmother and it was her dying wish to stand in the center of Beijing holding Mao's testament.
Local artists Ella Raidel (Austrian, but has worked in Taiwan since 2002) and Hongjohn Lin (林宏璋, also the curator of Taiwan's entry at the Venice Biennale) present their video about living in Taipei, Somewhere Late Afternoon.
Tsai Ming-liang (also at the Venice Biennale) stays true to form with a piece titled Erotic Space; while the Israeli artist Yael Bartana shows the installation Wild Seeds, which was well received at the Istanbul Biennial 2005.
Finally, one of Asia's most interesting filmmakers/artists, Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul, presents The Palace, a curiously beautiful and arresting film that represents the notion of history, its preservation and ultimate fate.