Taichung, Taiwan - 2021 Asian Art Biennial to return in full force at the end of October. The 8th edition of the biennial will run from October 30th 2021 to March 6th 2022, at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA). With the title “Phantasmapolis”, the biennial invites viewers to explore and to ponder upon the multi possibility of future with the works of 38 artists from 15 countries, in a (post) pandemic time.
An Asian curatorial network in the (post) pandemic time
Against all odds and the global pandemic, instead of being conservative or downsizing the exhibition, 2021 Asian Art Biennial hasn’t stopped to continue to challenge itself as a platform and supporter of the contemporary art scene in Asia. The curatorial team is formed of 5 co-curators from different countries and backgrounds to think about the possibility of cross-border curation at a time when global mobility is difficult. Works and discussion via internet, and other forms of technology also echo with the theme of the exhibition in another way.
The international curatorial team of 2021 Asian Art Biennial are Nobuo Takamori (Taiwan), Ho Yu-Kuan (Taiwan), Tessa Maria Guazon (The Philippines), Anushka Rajendran (India), and Thanavi Chotpradit (Thailand). With “Asian Futurism” and “Asian sci-fi culture” as the main themes, 38 artists/artist groups from 15 countries are invited to re-examine the past and the present of Asia through sci-fi perspectives. The curators are given the mission to invite artists and to lead different sessions of the exhibition based on their field of expertise, each part of the physical showcase will then be intertwined and provide the audience with various ways to understand their own position in history and present, and to further picture where they’re going to be in the flow of time.
Nobuo Takamori and Ho Yu-Kuan join hands to map out the exhibition, and chooses works to relate to the theme, encouraging the discussion on “Asian Futurism” and “Asian sci-fi culture”, inclusive of issues about the established boundaries of sex and gender, formation of intimate relationships, and the superstructure’s restrictions on the body and family. Tessa Maria Guazon looks after the archive project sector where archives are proposed as a modality for thinking about futurity, shifting our focus towards a more urgent and cogent future thinking.
Within the video art project “Phantasmapolis: Looking back to the future“, Anushka Rajendran works with artist collective Pad.ma (CAMP & 0x2620, India/ Berlin) (Public Access Digital Media Archive) to propose an alternative to how we popularly encounter the moving image on the internet by making use of technologies and footage that conventional methods of spectatorship and narrative-making have tried to suppress or overlook. Thanavi Chotpradit will bring in different ways of “reading” the exhibition with the reader-Midnight Sun and the Owl and forums; the former will gather 10 essays serving as a site of knowledge production related to the topics of Asian futurism/sci-fi, academically and creatively; while the forums aim to generate a space for conversations and emergent possibilities in imagining and thinking about sci-fi and futurism in Asian art.
“With the global pandemic strongly influencing our life and the way we interact with the world, the opening of 2021 Asian Art Biennial will indeed mark an important milestone for the history of the biennial itself but also the development of the Asian art scene. We hope it continues to serve as a unique platform to support and nurture contemporary art creations in the region, and most importantly that the artworks and the exhibition get to create a space where viewers can think, exchange, experience and rehabilitate with the power of art.” The Director of the NTMoFA, Liang Yung-Fei, shares his expectation toward the upcoming biennial.
Asian futurism, a look into the multi possibility of future
The theme of 2021 Asian Art Biennial “Phantasmapolis” is adopted from the English sci-fi novel, Phantasmagoria (“幻城” in Mandarin), by renowned Taiwanese architect Da Hong Wang . The newly coined word comprised “phantasma” and “polis,” meaning respectively “apparition or specter” and “city” in Greek. Within the phantasmagoric city, the curators and artists return to their Asian roots and investigate the idea of “Asian Futurism”, the historical context of how sci-fi topics and materials have been utilized and represented in Asian modern and contemporary art, and to further ideate the multi possibility of future.
“The top Asian cities serve as bridges between the world and the future and are themselves the epitome of the near-future world. [...] Through the works exhibited, we can say that Asian modernity is where utopia and dystopia overlap. [...] organically connects the past and the future, foreign countries and technology, illusion and reality, humbleness and glory.” Takamori said in his curatorial notes.
Multidisciplinary works to create a unique visual experience and discussion on future
In 2021 Asian Art Biennial, a wide variety of works ranging from contemporary visual artworks, the NTMoFA collection, archive studies, publications, to architectural works will be showcased alongside each other. Producing not only a unique visual experience, but the biennial is also expected to be a platform where Asian artists can exchange and open up to new discussions.
Many artists are taking this opportunity to reflect on the influence of COVID-19 pandemic on human life with works presented in the Biennial. Taiwanese artist Joyce Ho’s new creation DOTS invites viewers to transform the standardized procedures and record-keeping under the “new normal” of COVID-19 before entering the museum into a ritualistic experience. The work of Bakudapan Food Study Group (Indonesia) The Hunger Tales takes the form of a board game to explore political relations regarding food crisis, particularly due to the break out of the disease. South Korean artist Kim Ayoung ’s At the Surisol Underwater Lab will also be transforming surreal sci-fi scenes into carriers for real-life social issues.
Tessa Maria Guazon envisions the archive project “Prospecting” as an invitation to think along where documents from the past can be prompts to understand why we have arrived at our current situation. The works by Catalina Africa (The Philippines) articulate the archival through the ways materiality is encountered through the artistic process. Mark Salvatus’s (The Philippines) Human Conditioned references landscapes, the built environment, digital technology and the human body to revisit the different revolutions and uprisings in Asian history. Visual artwork Transient State by Alvin Zafra (The Philippines) is shaped by the dynamic yet complex dialogue between people and the built environment.
In video art project, Pad.ma (CAMP & 0x2620) (India/ Berlin) conceptualized and executed the online platform that hosts the virtual manifestation of the exhibition, proposing alternative ways of mining the connectivity and democratic possibilities that still exist in theory vis-à-vis the internet towards ethical digital infrastructures to engage with art. The platform gathers together video works such as Mariah Lookman’s recent film Hayy in Serendib where she attempts to decentre the colonial lineage of rationalist approaches in philosophical inquiry and the scientific method. The Island by Tuan Andrew Nguyen depicts a dystopian future featuring differentially articulated existential concerns between the last man and woman on earth.
Thanavi Chotpradit’s curation focus on different aspects of time and powers, she invited Chulayarnnon Siriphol (Thailand), Mattie Do (Laos) and Genevieve Chua (Singapore) to exhibit together. Siriphol’s work Give Us A Little More Time (2020) is deeply engages with the current political conflict in Thailand, addresses the role time plays in reinforcing dictatorial power. Mattie Do’s The Long Walk delicately portrays the colonial continuum in Laos that has stretched into the future. Among the two video artworks is Genevieve Chua’s visual artwork Seconds Accumulating on a Hundred Years (2017), a visual representation of a soundscape parsed from extracted sound samples of riverbeds, The painting is about “a sense of time, or a reality of time”. In this work, flatness and surface become the layers without depth, debunking the notion of linear time.
Besides the meticulously curated works, Phantasmapolis – The 2021 Asian Art Biennial, a series of online and offline programs will be opened to art lovers around the world, all details please refer to the Facebook page of the NTMoFA and the Biennial.
More information can be found in the attached press release and media assets are available through this link.
Phantasmapolis: 2021 Asian Art Biennial
Time: October 30th, 2021 - March 6th, 2022
Lin Hsiao-Yu, Liao Chia-Cheng, Tel: (04)23723552 #304、701
Media Contacts:May Yan (NTMoFA, email@example.com )
Odele Tseng (Hao Liao Creative, firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com )
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
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