Ode to the Taipei Biennial, 2016

Hong Kong 2017
Chi-Wen Gallery
Single-channel video, 8 min 6 sec
Within any biennial there always exists the dual problems of local voice and international position. It is an indispensable stage for performance, but conversely, it can also be an intractable burden. For 20 years the Taipei Biennial has strived to introduce Taiwanese contemporary art and to forge international connections. Looking back on this history and taking the 1996 Taipei Biennial as a staring point, I revise exhibition statements as lyres to be chanted in A cappella. Making reference to the structure of the six male curators of the past, I have invited six professional singers to perform in three parts - tenor, baritone and bass - in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum lobby with its rich atmosphere of modernity. A cappella was a common form of church music in the 15th and 16th centuries, and it experienced a renaissance in the 19th century. Comprised exclusively of the human voice and sung in multi-part harmonies, it is a form of music that cleanses the heart. In the video six men blend together many vocalizations and utterances based on the prescribed tempo. As the score constantly advances and the notes interweave, the pleasing harmonies within the high-ceilinged space refract the “identity of Taiwanese art” that the statements describe. As the piece concludes with two notes, what can be seen is a self-fantasy of Taiwan’s political state within the current of international trends.