Wed, Aug 10, 2011 - Page 15 News List

A guy with an eye for art

Invisibleness is Visibleness, currently on view at MOCA, Taipei, proves the thesis that single-collector exhibits are worthy of museum shows — though with some caveats

By Noah Buchan  /  Staff Reporter

The exhibit largely avoids such criticism. MOCA, Taipei doesn’t have a permanent collection and is funded partly by the Taipei City Government and partly by the sale of museum tickets, catalogues and souvenirs. Critics, however, could point to the fact that the show’s curator operates Agora Art Project x Space (藝譔堂), a gallery that represents one artist in the show. Perhaps a bigger criticism revolves around the museum’s relinquishing of curatorial control to Lo and Miyatsu. Two things here: Are the curators transparent about these decisions and is the show worthwhile? For this reviewer, a resounding yes on both counts.

There seems to be agreement among art professionals (artists, curators and educators) that bureaucrats interfere too much in the decision-making process at public art institutions. The thinking goes that government officials in positions of power too often believe that these publicly funded institutions are their fiefdoms. There has recently been a vocal backlash over this issue, as the recent resignation of Taipei City Cultural Affairs Commissioner Hsieh Hsiao-yun (謝小醞) over controversies at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) illustrates.

In any event, Invisibleness is Visibleness deserves to be seen. It begins with a room-cum-shrine devoted to Miyatsu’s beloved Yayoi Kusama, and includes Infinity Dots, his first collected work (which, according to the collector’s chronology, was in 1994), as well as Infinity Net, his most valuable. (Lo said Miyatsu couldn’t afford to buy the latter work outright, so he arranged a two-year payment plan with the gallery.)

There is also a small section on conceptual art, featuring a 1972 visual installation by Vito Acconci (Untitled Project for Pier 17) and a 1996 sculpture by Jan Fabre (Krijgers Rozenkrans Warrior’s Rosary).

But the exhibit stands out mostly for its display of new media art, particularly by emerging video artists. Often this medium appears an amateur mix of music video and ad kitsch, and there are some videos here that are like that. But Takagi Masakatsu’s Tidal is a luscious and ethereal video of girls and women moving fluidly through space, celebrating the pleasures of youth, beauty and romance. Miyatsu certainly has a good eye.

However, as is often the case with exhibits at MOCA, Taipei, there is too much of a good thing. While watching Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s sumptuous video My Mother’s Garden, I was constantly distracted by Tadasu Takamine’s video God Bless America, a humorous, if screechy (the title song is sung throughout), take on American cultural imperialism, in the middle distance and the din of squealing pigs in Wu Chang-jung’s (吳長蓉) kaleidoscopic Documentary IV — Little Mince Cloth beyond. The 11 videos crammed into the second floor audiovisual space didn’t make for the best viewing experience.

Regardless, Invisibleness is Visibleness serves as a powerful argument to allow single-collector exhibits into the museum space — though with caveats — and proves its thesis that collecting art isn’t as exclusive a pastime as is sometimes thought.

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