Art Dialogues Among Taiwan, Korea, and Thailand
Date: 24 Aug 2019- 12 Oct 2019
Artist Talk: 24 Aug 2019 (Sat.) 17:00-18:30
Reception: 24 Aug 2019 (Sat.) 18:30-21:00
Venue: VT Artsalon (B1, No.17, Ln.56, Sec. 3, Xinsheng N. Rd, TaipeiCity 104, Taiwan)
The Geopolitics of Art – Asian drums
Written Sang Ho Seo (Director of Open Space Bae)
Over the last century, most Asian states followed the same path of modernization as the West. During this process, these nations all shared a similar experience of being liberated from imperialism, fundamentalist religious authority or dictatorships and authoritarian rule that constituted the politics of the old era. The unparalleled instability and speed of Asian modernization, coupled with the change that the West forced upon Asia, meant that many elements of Asian culture were destroyed or distorted. Given the repeated nature of such cultural contact, it is only natural that Asian artists tend toward political public art that reveals their self-identity. This quality of ‘Asianness’ that manifests itself in many ways, works like a code that dominates their art.
However now, as in the past, the West’s superior cultural status remains unchanged. Politically, we obtained superficial freedom from the West’s subordination (and from the second world, socialism, which gripped the Soviet Union, and became the basis upon which they contested the concept of one world.) However, as neoliberalism caused globalism to accelerate, our right to examine ourselves and who we were in relation to these three worlds of history and society was ignored. Globalization further obscured what it meant to be Asian at that time. The situation in Korea was no exception. Many institutions, first and foremost artistic institutions, followed the trend of emphasizing the value of Asia in the titles of all their artworks.
Unlike continental Europe, Asia is formed of many independent island-nations and these geographical features form physical barriers to cultural communication and exchange. However, despite that, the identity that creates Asia, is simultaneously both different from and similar to other regions; even now some people hold the opinion that Asia is one enormous cultural block. That is to say, Asian identity provided the energy that was essential for creating new nations and overcoming individual differences that arose during that process of creating new nations that was sometimes simultaneous, and sometimes asynchronous. Taiwan VT ARTSALONE’s endeavour to reconstruct and develop a major artistic hub in Asia is one example of this struggle. Our chosen approach is not the top-down approach that is characteristic of nationalism, rather our approach is based on horizontal relationships that emphasize the importance of local identities. Local networking is key for institutions where artists of Asian nations are active. Many artistic groups and activists provided us with their support. We do not covet fame or cultural power, instead we are taking one small step at a time and have created an alternative space to allow artists collectives, from countries including Thailand, Taiwan, and Korea (OPENSPACE BAE), to collaborate.
It would be rash to claim that this exhibition is exceptional in its portrayal of Asianness. However, our plan is to provide a clear report on a variety of groups who have been active in the artistic field for more than ten years and diffuse the sounds of their rhythms far and wide. No matter how small the wave is we will continue to function as a stronghold that faithfully stores even the smallest of Asian artist’s clamors. Our exhibition is not about overemphasizing the character of any particular locale; indeed, we have no qualms about becoming a conduit of mutual examination and feedback. Above all, one of the essential underlying facts about the exhibition that viewers need to understand when interpreting individual artworks is that when a locality’s art has a political function, art can lose its meaning. Politics, society and regionalism are keywords in this exhibition, and even at this moment they are all developing in various different fashions, sometimes some aspects of each are really worth observing closely. What you focus on will change the way that you interpret the exhibition. I hope that Asian art will continue to be debated and discussed. This encounter with visual art will spotlight Asia’s past, present and future, and pique your interest in the culture of the various nations of Asia.
The powerful beats of the drum are not just heard by the ears, they also collide with the body. We wonder how the social potency of art will be interpreted by the many viewers of this exhibition. The artists who participated in this exhibition, Asian Drums, will return to where they are based, make their thoughts into artworks anew and meet each other again somewhere on this earth. Don’t forget that the sound of the drums that knock on our hearts is the echo of Asia; and the echo of the cry of art will grow louder and louder, and live on around us, wherever we are.