Wed, Dec 14, 2011 - Page 14 News List

Ticket to art

Mia Liu’s large-scale trompe l’oeil sculptural triptych was made with 60,000 tickets from New York’s Guggenheim Museum

By Noah Buchan  /  Staff Reporter

Photo: Noah Buchan, Taipei times, and courtesy of Mia Liu

Mia Liu’s (劉文瑄) first performance art piece took place at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Well, kind of. Liu, 31, had been working at the museum as a ticket taker while doing an MFA at Hunter College when she came up with the idea of printing the title of her own show on the museum’s tickets. Fearful of losing her job, however, she only handed out a few. She then came up with another plan — to display her work in the museum’s staff room.

“Then I could put on my resume that I’d had a solo show at the Guggenheim,” Liu said. She approached her boss with the idea, “and he looked at me like I was crazy,” she said.

It’s unfortunate Liu didn’t take either action to any kind of conclusion because it would have subverted the museum’s curatorial policies, raised interesting questions as to how artists exhibit at major art museums and offered a reconsideration of what constitutes museum space (should we consider a staff room part of Guggenheim’s exhibition area?).

Though an official Guggenheim show has yet to materialize for Liu, she did convince the museum to sell her 200,000 of its tickets, 60,000 of which she has used in Guggen’ Dizzy, a large-scale trompe l’oeil sculptural triptych currently on view at IT Park. The sculpture is part of I Can’t Tell You, but You Feel It (我無法告訴你), a solo show of her work that includes photography and installation. This review focuses on the sculpture.

Guggen’ Dizzy appeals because its simple elements combine in a way to create complex visual illusions reminiscent of optical art. Liu began the work with a series of doodles, sketches and drawings of basic geometric objects, scanned the bits into a computer and pieced them together to form a template of the sculpture’s overall design.

Exhibition Notes

What: I Can’t Tell You, but You Feel It (我無法告訴你), Mia Liu (劉文瑄) solo exhibit

When: Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 1pm to 10pm. Until Dec. 24

Where: IT Park Gallery (伊通公園), 41 Yitong St, Taipei City (台北市伊通街41號), tel: (02) 2507-7243

On the Net: www.itpark.com.tw


With the help of assistants, she attached, one by one, 20,000 tickets to one of three circular boards, each made up of six concentric circles. Colored masking tape was stuck to the edges of the tickets, that when combined form the original patterns. The boards were then mounted onto metal brackets and clamped onto a motor, which when switched on rotates slowly. The three-panel sculpture took three years to complete.

Watching the sculptures rotate is a thing to behold because the colors and shapes constantly shift depending on how light is refracted off their surfaces. Are they a kind of mandala, meant as a prompt to contemplate the flux and impermanence of existence? Or perhaps their constantly changing appearance is a metaphor for the contingency of human perception.

Liu offered a more mundane explanation.

“It’s just about mixing different colors with light [based] on patterns that I draw on a daily basis,” she said.

Reflecting on the exhibit’s title, Liu’s meaning becomes clear. We aren’t supposed to use our reason to look for any deeper meaning, but feel and experience the sculpture’s aesthetic beauty.

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