Sunday, May 18, 2008

2001 Taiwan Pavilion at Venice

For 2001, curator Kao Chien-hui’s premise of a living cell brought together 5 diverse artists. The theme was “Living Cell: Soul of Mankind.” Chicago-based curator Kao Chien-hui writes that the Taiwanese artists share the idea of “man – his life, his image, his spirit and his conceptions of himself.”

Lin Ming-hong (Michael Lin) A Taiwanese floral print mural blends as decorative image with architectural setup making the work border the space between painting (2-dimensional space) and architecture (3-dimensional space). And the pink peonies softened the rustic chambers of the prigione. Enhancing the architectural structure, the painting creates a rosy glow thus softening the gloomy nature of the space.

Wang Wen-chih
Wang’s fragrant cypress sculptural installation allowed viewers to take a rest; a work that was simple, yet elegiac , “Beyond the Site” is a cylindrical shelter composed of sweet-smelling wooden planks of Taiwan cypress, sandalwood, camphor and padauk, connected by intertwined vines rather than nails. Viewers are invited to take off their shoes and climb into the work to relax and meditate. The artwork helps one reflect on the healing aspects of nature and would have been more effective in its own room.

Liu Shih-fen
Her installation of an autopsy table with surgical images of herself and the sound of breaking glass created a theater about the body. “Deciphering the Genetic Map of Love: Eyeballs of a Lover” speculated on love and desire and shows a cyborg body. One enters a doorway that is flanked by a transparent spiky inflatable border. Inside the darkened space, surgical tables are set in a cross formation. Upon the tables, small domed cylinder lightboxes linked with a multitude of plastic tubing contain digital images of MRIs of the artist’s heart and juxtaposed with nude photos of herself. In addition, a video loop of animated bodies and the sound of breaking glass is projected onto the ceiling.

Lin Shu-min
Lin Shu-min installed holograms of people’s heads into the floor for his popular piece titled “Glass Ceiling.” The viewer steps on and looks down upon the various portraits of people from around the world. Lin said his work implies that we are all in a certain place trying to achieve a higher plateau.

Chang Chien-chi
Magnum photographer Chang Chien-Chi exhibits his photo-documentary series titled “The Chain.” The large black and white silver gelatin prints show pairs of mental patients from the infamous Lung Fa Tang asylum linked together by large metal chains attached to the waist. These moving photos intelligently installed in a claustrophobic dungeon-like chamber emit a potent emotional charge. The numb and sterile gaze of these people reflects the vast emptiness of our society.

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