Kingdom of Wonder

Kingdom of Wonder

Chien-Chi Chang, Hsu Chia-Wei, Michael Lin, Peng Hung-Chih, Yu Cheng-Ta, Yuan Goang-Ming
1 June – 13 July, 2019 

Selected Works

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Chi-Wen Gallery is delighted to present “Kingdom of Wonder” in which 6 Taiwanese artists set their eyes on art, religion, sex and politics in S.E. Asia.

The title “Kingdom of Wonder” comes from the inscription on the Cambodian guitar played by a performer in Hsu Chia Wei’s video “Rooftop”, which is part of his “White Building” video series made in Cambodia. Since its opening in 1963, the White Building, performance art and politics were closely interwoven. With different places and performance artists, this series documents the ‘performance image’ of the White Building.

Peng Hung-Chih’s “Canine Monk” series shows footage of his dog licking off dog food from a wall backwards, creating the appearance that the dog is writing religious texts with his tongue. There is no illusion that the dog is doing anything else than feeding himself, but his passion for the food reveals that he has not freed himself from the same desires that prevent enlightenment in humans.

In the video dramamentary “Tell Me What You Want” artist Yu Chang-Ta, as his alter-ego ‘David’, tries to make friends with pimps in a Manila red light district to collaborate in the making of his production through an exchange of favours. The work prompts the viewer to contemplate whether this collaboration represents true friendship or market transaction, all the while revealing stereotypes and class structures hidden behind international politics.

For the project Locomotion, which was commissioned by MCAD Manila in 2016, Michael Lin covered not only the museum walls with his famous floral patterns, but also the canvas covers of 15 local pedicabs. Pedicabs are a common means of transportation in Manila, and by exchanging his floral designs with pedicab drivers for their own creative collages, Lin’s work was brought to the urban public space while the drivers’ colourful folk art was displayed in the museum in return. The exchange created an equal partnership between Lin and the participating drivers as well as an exchange of not only materials, but also of the role of people and the function of places

On weekends and holidays, the Zhongli train station in Taiwan is filled with migrant workers hoping for a better life away from their home countries. Today, as throughout history, the world sees a surging wave of refugees and if we think about the millions of Mainland troops and civilians who retreated to Taiwan after the Kuomintang lost the 1949 Chinese Civil War, these immigrants, the artist’s father included, could also be considered refugees. 

For his video “The Strangers”, Yuan uses a high-speed camera and a spotlight to shoot from the train through the window. As the train approaches the platform, he turns on the spotlight, and the high-speed camera begins filming the people waiting for the train at a speed of 1,200 frames per second. The eight seconds of filming become eight minutes when played at normal speed, turning these strangers into sculptures, frozen in time, somber portraits that look us in the eyes. 

In “Burma: The Promise Betrayed”, Chang mourns the passing of Myanmar’s symbol of democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi, now the 1st State Counsellor of Myanmar, used to be called ‘The Lady’ for her courage in fighting against a brutal military junta. People hoped she would put things right, bring peace and end the Rohingya tragedy. Nevertheless, the civil war continues, and the ethnic cleansing only gets worse and the believers in human rights are being betrayed.

Complementing the exhibition will be a selection of Chien-Chi Chang’s photography from his essential series “Double Happiness” and “Burmese Days”.

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