But to my mind we are in the framework of neoliberalism and for me that means that the [socioeconomic] classes in these different countries are very much connected. I think we should be united as one people in the world and we should always support the pursuit of more freedom in our creativity and the freedom of our speech. I want to make this clear. Otherwise people would challenge me about my criticism of TFAM while at the same time exhibiting my work in Shanghai.
TT: What are your criticisms of TFAM?
CC: First, I want to state that I support international exchanges. I also completely support cross-strait exchanges. But I oppose [TFAM’s] neoliberalist style of exchanges.
TT: What do you mean by “neoliberalist style of exchanges?”
CC: I mean for the past two years TFAM has hosted a lot of [large-scale] exhibitions and has invested a lot in these exhibitions. But there has been no dialogue. TFAM spent a lot of money on television commercials to increase ticket sales and these exhibitions always occupy an important space [in the museum]. But they are not cultural exchanges.
What these exhibitions are telling us is that if someone is very famous in the West, we will bring them here. But there is no dialogue. The Pixar exhibition or Philadelphia Museum exhibition [Manet to Picasso: Masterpieces From the Philadelphia Museum of Art] are like the great capitalists telling us what [we need] through television commercials and all kinds of promotion. This is not a dialogue.
Art is about imagination. You don’t actually need a lot of money to organize and host an imaginative exhibition. But TFAM has stopped listening to Taiwan’s art community. TFAM thinks it can invest money in television commercials and draw a lot of visitors to these exhibitions. For TFAM, that equals success. But despite selling tickets and making a lot of money, what does TFAM get? Not much. These exhibits come and go, but they don’t contribute anything to the culture of Taiwan.
TT: What’s the remedy?
CC: I think the museum should start telling us what the [exhibition] contract terms are because at present we don’t know. We have every reason to [believe] that TFAM hosts these exhibitions for political purposes. The museum wants to show the people of Taiwan that it only had maybe 300,000 visitors in the past, but with these special exhibitions it can attract 1 million. I mean, Pixar attracted 400,000 visitors to the museum. But that’s Pixar’s success, not TFAM’s.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have had the Pixar exhibition. But it should have become a dialogue through which we can think about why Pixar is so successful and why Hollywood movies have already penetrated all the cinemas in Taiwan. If we can include this, it would not be as unidirectional as Pixar was.
TT: It seems that artists are becoming more vocal in their condemnation of the country’s art world …
CC: That’s because everyone is fed up with it!
TT: Tsong Pu’s (莊普) exhibit in the spring, for example, criticized TFAM’s policy of relegating established Taiwanese artists to its basement space. More recently, Shi Jin-hua (石晉華) criticized the publishing industry for trading works of art for cover stories. Do you think public criticism like yours will change the way Taiwan’s art world operates?