Wed, Feb 08, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Added value

Artist Wu Chien-yi’s online 5100 Mini-Store invites consumers to think about the value they give to different products. Canvases from the series are currently on display at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum

By Catherine Shu  /  Staff Reporter

Wu Chien-yi’s installation at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum includes a workbench because she wanted to make the “manufacturing process” of her artwork as transparent as possible.

Photo courtesy of Wu Chien-yi

5100 Mini-Store (5100 微型百貨) takes art out of the exhibition space and online, where viewers become a part of artist Wu Chien-yi’s (吳芊頤) work by shopping for canvases depicting nearly 400 products on her blog or the Ruten (露天拍賣) online auction site.

Canvases created for 5100 Mini-Store are currently on display as part of the 2011 Taipei Arts Award (臺北美術獎) exhibition, which is at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館) until March 4.

The concept for 5100 Mini-Store was inspired by the experience of browsing online auctions and stores. Wu used image thumbnails on Web sites like Ruten and Go Happy (快樂購物網) as visual references.

“When we look at listings online, everything has been reduced to a photo, one after another. On the Internet, everything looks the same, no matter what it is. It’s all uniform,” says Wu.

Wu used colored tape to create each of the 21cm2 canvases, which show items ranging from detergent to Gucci wallets. There are several depictions of Andy Warhol’s most recognizable artworks; one canvas features the cover of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography. The canvases are priced at NT$3,000 each and can be purchased on Ruten or by contacting Wu through e-mail.

The amount of detail in each of Wu’s images varies from canvas to canvas, but many of the brands are recognizable upon first glance.

“[Wu] uses the same material in all of the canvases and they are all the same size, which focuses our attention on the question of how we determine each object’s value,” says artist Wang Jun-jieh (王俊傑), who was part of the jury that selected pieces to be included in the Taipei Arts Award exhibition. Wu was one of 15 artists picked from a pool of 264 submissions.

Exhibition Notes

What: 5100 Mini-Store is part of the Taipei Arts Award 2011 (臺北美術獎) exhibition at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館)

When: Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:30am to 5:30pm and until 8:30pm on Saturdays. Until March 4

Where: Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM, 台北市立美術館), 181, Zhongshan N Rd Sec 3, Taipei City (台北市中山北路三段181號), tel: (02) 2595-7656

Admission: NT$30

On the Net: More information about 5100 Mini-Store can be found at or

Wu, who began conceptualizing the project a year ago, spends 40 minutes to about two hours working on each canvas. A series of food items features snacks such as a bag of peanut M&M candies, Oreo cookies and cans of soft drinks like Pepsi, Coca Cola and Sidra. Entertainment products include a black Nintendo Wii console and an HTC Wildfire S smartphone. Other canvases show quotidian objects like a white Mono plastic eraser and a pack of 3M Command adhesives.

One series of canvases focuses on products that were found to contain di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP, during a food contamination scandal last year.

“Everyone refused to purchase them. The items all became highly recognizable,” Wu says.

Though Wu has created about 400 canvases, only eight have been purchased so far, most by customers who found her artwork through 5100 Mini-Store’s blog or Ruten.

“She hasn’t sold a lot of canvases, but she is using the Internet as a platform to talk about consumer value and I think that is something only young artists can do, because the Internet is such a big part of their life and using it is completely natural to them,” says Wang, the head of the Center for the Study of Art and Technology at the Taipei National University of the Arts (國立台北藝術大學).

Wu chose tape because it is a common household material. Rolls of tape are stacked on a worktable that has been set up in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum installation, and bits of the material overflow from three trash cans. During the opening day of the Taipei Arts Award exhibition, Wu sat at the table and worked on a canvas.

“One of the things I want to do was to make my process as transparent as possible, so everyone knows how I work and what materials I work with,” says Wu.

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