Saturday, October 27, 2007

The United States of Identity

I live in Taiwan, a place that considers itself a country, and yes, I can vouch, by personal experience, it does function as an independent country as it has its own currency, banks, elected officials, laws. I pay my taxes, have health insurance, residency, and have public education available, etc. Now many other countries do not consider Taiwan as an independent country, but rather a “renegade province of China.”

So this got me to thinking about statehood and what constitutes a country. Artists have been questioning this idea for decades. An early example is Ono-Lennon’s Nutopia. Then there is Ladonia by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, AVL Ville by Atelier van Lieshout and Peter Coffin’s display of micronations which summed up the current situation of autonomous states at the Palais de Tokyo last March. Check for a current list of micronations; the list seems to be expanding. (I want to secede from my current state … of mind).

And check out , a website sponsored by Taiwan’s Council of Culture Affairs. I write an Opinion column for it. You’ll see that there’s a lotta kulchur comin’ out of this (non) country.

What do you think?

1 comment:

ec said...

This pertains more to your Opinion on the Taiwan culture site than here, but Taiwanese artists are showing in 3 NYC venues right now:

For Immediate Release:

Frolic: Humor and Mischief in New Taiwanese Art will bring a sense of
fun with a touch of mischief to the fall art scene in New York City.
The exhibition will open at three New York spaces in October, and
November, 2007. This exhibition, co-curated by Dr. Thalia
Vrachopoulos, based in New York, and Jane Ingram Allen, based in
Taiwan, features works in all media by 27 emerging Taiwanese artists.

Each gallery will highlight the works of different artists, including
several site-specific installations to be created by some of the
artists upon their arrival from Taiwan. The theme of this exhibition,
humor and mischief, reflects one of the main qualities of contemporary
Taiwanese art production. The sense of fun and mischievousness
exhibited in the new Taiwanese art distinguishes it from others such
as the Korean, which is much more serious in its tenor and themes. An
example of an artist using these elements is Wenfu Yu, who deploys
feathers with which to create environments that speak to the
lighthearted child in all of us. They are light and fantastical
configurations that arouse our instinctual desire to play, such as his
Trees, 2007, (site specific installation, feathers and mixed media),
done for the Taipei Gallery lobby. Another artist who uses humor in
works that address both feminist and artistic issues is Agi Chen.
This artist uses color discs in symbolic sequences that correspond to
heroines known from popular culture, such as Winnie the Pooh,
Sailormoon and the Powerpuff Girls, Mr. Incredible and Elastic Girl.
Chen deconstructs the colors and by abstracting the characters to
color circles, she reconstructs their meaning to reflect on issues of
consumerism and regional preferences. Howard Chen groups little
creatures that appear to invade the corners of the gallery, but who
belie their innocent glittery appearance when observed in detail. The
Babies, 2003 is a grouping of dolls and hearts composed of silver
sequins and pins that juxtapose the quintessential baby with the
dangerous object, the pin. This combination is grounded in the Dada
spirit of exploring seemingly innocent constructs, (the baby, for
example), while using irony to pun popular conceptions. It is these
and 21 other artists' creative productions that give this show an edge
that will contribute to the climate of its time and leave an indelible
impression upon global audiences.

Dr. Thalia Vrachopoulos, known for her expertise on contemporary Asian
art and for curating many exhibitions in this field, traveled to
Taiwan in 2006. There she was introduced to the contemporary art
scene of Taipei at such places as the Museum of Contemporary Art, VT
Salon, Hua-shan Art Center, IT Park Gallery, and other alternative art
spaces. She was impressed by the quality of the work, the fresh
approach and sense of fun expressed by these artists and wanted to
present this new work from Taiwan in New York. She approached the
Taiwan Council for Cultural Affairs for support of the exhibition and
teamed up with American artist and independent curator Jane Ingram
Allen, who is based in Taiwan. Allen, an artist and independent
curator and art critic, has been working in Taiwan since arriving
there in January, 2004 with a Fulbright Scholar Award. During the
three-plus years Allen has been living in Taiwan, she has met many
young artists and worked in all parts of the country. Allen and
Vrachopoulos have been working together to select the works for the
exhibition and coordinate activities in Taiwan and New York City.

A fully illustrated catalogue of 78 pages will accompany the
exhibition with essays by Jane Ingram Allen, Thalia Vrachopoulos and
Jonathan Goodman. It will be available at all three galleries during
the exhibition schedule.

The first part of the Frolic exhibitions will open at 2x13 Gallery,
Chelsea, 531 W. 26 th St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001-5514,
212-563-3365 on October 5th and run through October 27th. The opening
reception at 2x13 Gallery will be Oct. 5th at 6-8 pm . The artists
and media in this part of the exhibition are listed below:

Charwei Tsai sculpture
Agi Chen Paintings/digital photographs
Howard Chen Mixed media sculptures with thumbtacks
Shih-chun Cheng Video
Tang-wei Hsu Site-specific mixed media installation
Ai-hua Hsia Japanese lacquerware sculpture
Lanya Huang, Mixed media installation
Ya-chu Kang Suspended mixed media sculpture
Hung Yi Mixed media sculptures
Pei-ying Huang Mixed media sculptures

The second part of Frolic will open at Tenri Cultural Institute
Gallery, 43A West 13th Street, NYC 10011, 212-645-2800, on October
18th and run through November 21st. The opening reception at Tenri
Gallery will be Friday, October 19th, from 6-8 pm. The artists in
this part of the exhibition include the following:

Agi Chen Photographs
Shieng-nien Yang Video
Fay Ku Gouaches and drawings
Wan-ling Huang Ink and glue paintings on paper
Hui-chen Kuo Photographs/digital prints
Yu-an Liao Paintings on canvas
Ching-fong Lin Mixed media paintings on acrylic with neon lights
Ping-yu Pan Mixed media fabric sculptures
Wan-ting Su Photographs/digital prints
Jui-chung Yao Photographs/C prints
Wen-fu Yu Site-specific installation with feathers

The third installment of the exhibition will open at Taipei Gallery,
Taipei Cultural Center, 1 East 42 nd Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY
10017, tel. 212-697-6188, on November 6th and run through Nov. 30th.
The opening reception at Taipei Gallery will take place on Tuesday
November 6th at 6-8 pm. Artists include:

Ching-yao Chen Photographs/digital prints
Meng-yeh Chou Video and mixed media sculptures
Wen-fu Yu Installation with bamboo and feathers
Yi-li Yeh Video
Meng-chuan Ho Photograph/C print
Chien-jung Lin Mixed media sculpture installation
Akibo Lee Animation prints
Tsai-rung He Photographs, digital prints
National Taiwan University Graduate Student Animation videos

For more information about this exhibition, please contact: Dr. Thalia
Vrachopoulos, Curator, or Jane Ingram Allen, Curator,
Email: or Josiane Lai at