The 8th Asian Art Biennial organized by the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA) will open on October 30, 2021. Taiwanese independent curator Nobuo TAKAMORI is named to convene a multi-national, interdisciplinary curatorial team for this edition of the Asian Art Biennial with curators from various countries, including Taiwanese curator Yu-Kuan HO, Filipino curator Tessa Maria GUAZON, Indian curator Anushka RAJENDRAN, and Thai curator and art historian Thanavi CHOTPRADIT. Through Takamori’s long-term study and research about non-Western cultural regions, including Asia, Africa and Latin America, it is hoped that the close collaboration between the Southeast Asian and East Asian curators can explore and develop the potentiality of a curatorial methodology based on Asian curatorial network while decolonizing and reconstructing Asia’s unique cultural history and regional politics.
This edition adopts the theme of “Phantasmapolis,” which pays tribute to celebrated architect Da-Hong WANG’s English sci-fi novel, Phantasmagoria (titled “幻城” in Mandarin). Whereas the word “phantasmagoria” refers to a building constructed of spectral, illusory light, the newly coined word “phatasmapolis” comprises “phantasma” and “polis,” which respectively mean “apparition or specter” and “city” in Greek. With the city as a framework, Phatasmapolis investigates the idea of “Asian Futurism” as well as the historical context of how sci-fi topics and materials have been utilized and represented in Asian modern and contemporary art. The exhibition will examine related topics and their histories, including Taiwanese modern art in the era of the space competition; the “Republic of China Pavilion” in the Osaka World Expo ’70; imaginations of modern lifestyle and future culture embraced by Taipei and other emerging metropolis in Asia in the 1990s; reproducing Taiwan’s gender-based, sci-fi related art creations in the 2000s; and latest artistic creations by contemporary Asian artists in response to urbanity, technologies and the present situation brought on by the pandemic. As the exhibition addresses to Asian contemporary life, it also reviews and re-examines Asian perspectives regarding sci-fi imagination and the future. The biennial will showcase works by artists from various Asian countries, and encompass a wide spectrum of expressive forms, ranging from contemporary artworks, the NTMoFA collection, archive studies, publications, architectural works, etc.
Considering the current pandemic, the objective of the biennial is to contemplate on possibilities of transnational connections and collaborations through the formation of the curatorial team when global travel becomes challengingly difficult. In addition to Taiwanese curators, three emerging Southeast Asian curators with profound potentials and varying expertise are invited to enrich the multidimensional thinking about this issue through diverse art practices, such as academic art theory journals and publications, archive exhibition and space construction, as well as video art projects. With the curators’ specialties, the biennial hopes to move beyond an exhibition predominantly featuring visual artworks and instead engender new possibilities of practices in non-exhibition forms. In comparison to previous editions of the biennial, which have primarily focused on in-depth investigation of real histories, this edition will look into the future and assume the perspectives of several Asian countries to link together heterogeneous ideas about the future from multiple disciplines to formulate responses to the diverse possibilities of Asian Futurism.
It is anticipated that this edition will not only explore the complexity of “Asian Futurism” with accessible discussions that will prompt Asian audience’s and academia’s interest in the subject, but will also validate the prospect of a curatorial methodology based on Asian curatorial network through the multinational and interdisciplinary curatorial collaboration. The biennial plans to invite and showcase about 35-40 artists and art groups from the Asian region.
About the Curatorial Team
Nobuo TAKAMORI is an independent curator, assistant professor of the Graduate Institute of Trans-disciplinary Arts at Taipei National University of the Arts, and the director of a curators’ collective, “Outsiders Factory”. Selected important exhibition curatorial projects include “Post-Actitud” (2011, Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico DF), “South country, South of Country” (2012, Zero Station, Ho Chi Minh City & Howl Space, Tainan), “The Lost Garden” (2014, Eslite Gallery, Taipei), Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition 2014 “The Return of Ghosts” (Hong Gah Museum, Taipei), “I Don’t Belong” (2015, Galleria H., Taipei), “Wild Legend” (2015, Jumin Museum, Jinshan) , “Blue Bird in the Labyrinth: A Walk from Japanese Modern Art to Asia Contemporary Art Scene” (2016, Galerie Nichido, Taipei), “Tabaco, Carpet, Lunch Box, Textile Machinery and Cave Men: the narratives of craftsmanship and technologies in contemporary art” (2017, Hong Gah Museum, Taipei), “Is/In-Land: Mongolian Taiwanese Contemporary Art Exchange Project” (2018, 976 Art Gallery, Ulaanbaatar & Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei), “The Middleman, the Backpacker, the Alien Species and the Time Traveler” (2019, TKG+, Taipei), “The Secret South: from Cold War Perspective to Global South in Museum Collection” (2020, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei).
HO Yu-Kuan is a curator and art writer based in Taipei, Taiwan. In 2013, HO obtained his MA