Wed, Oct 07, 2009 - Page 15 News List

ART JOURNAL: The good, the bad and the baffling

The Kuandu Arts Festival features one group exhibit and solo exhibits by artists from Taiwan and abroad

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

For the most part, Comedies is baffling because it isn’t thematically cohesive and doesn’t construct an incisive Balzacesque panorama.

Australian-born, Beijing-based artist Jayne Dyer, on the other hand, is in full control of her medium and the themes she wants to convey. Her installation, The Book Project, examines our changing relationship with knowledge and information as illustrated through the written word.

Dyer instructed the museum to collect discarded books over the past year for her installation. She then pieced the work together and suspended it from the museum’s ceiling.

I asked Dyer if the installation was meant to evoke the tree of knowledge. “Pillars of knowledge, actually,” she said. “The nature of a pillar of knowledge is that it is valued at a certain place and certain time and in another place and another time it might not have meaning. So there is that shifting notion of what is fact and what is fiction.”

Novels, works of philosophy, music texts and scores and children’s books are among the 2,500 volumes that went into constructing the 8m-tall structure. Dyer said that she was fascinated by the fact that the majority of the discarded books were computer manuals — a sign perhaps of local preoccupations.

“This is Taiwan’s history,” Dyer said. “But it could be another history in another place.”

Like Dyer, Taiwanese sculptor Chang Tzu-lung uses recycled material to fashion monumental and abstract works,.eight of which are on display at Aigrette Down.

The Spirit of Organicism (有機之靈) is indicative of what Chang is trying to accomplish. The 3m-high structure resembles an aviary. The door, however, is open and formed to look like a bird’s wing — it’s as though the whole sculpture could take flight at any moment.

By slightly altering the appearance of the “birdcage,” Chang completely changes our expectations of what its function could be. No longer a receptacle for animals, the cage itself becomes a metaphor for freedom.

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