August 29, 2019 - Asian Art Biennale - 2019 Asian Art Biennial: The Strangers from beyond the Mountain and the Sea
August 29, 2019

Asian Art Biennale

2019 Asian Art Biennial

2019 Asian Art Biennial
The Strangers from beyond the Mountain and the Sea
October 5, 2019–February 9, 2020

Opening reception: October 5

National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
No.2, Sec.1, Wu-chuan W. Road
Taichung City 40359

The 7th Asian Art Biennial curated by Taiwanese artist HSU Chia-Wei and Singaporean artist HO Tzu-Nyen, will be staged at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts from October 5, 2019 to February 9, 2020. There are 30 artists/ artist collectives from 16 countries invited for this edition, and full list of participating artists are announced recently.

Title: The Strangers from beyond the Mountain and the Sea
The two curators developed a diagram as the model for their curatorial thinking and proposed the title The Strangers from beyond the Mountain and the Sea. The term “stranger” in the exhibition title owes its inspiration to “marebito,” an ancient Japanese word describing beings that come from afar with gifts of wisdom, which was theorized by the Japanese ethnologist Shinobu Orikuchi (1887–1953). For the two curators, the “stranger” can take the form of the migrant, the ethnic minority, the colonist, the foreign merchant, the smuggler, the partisan, the shaman and the traitor—figures that are conduits to an unknown outside, and who channel forces that test the very limits of our sense of self, our society and our species.

The “mountain” and the “sea” of the title refer to the curators’ interests in “Zomia” and the “Sulu Sea.” Zomia refers to a vast highland area that cuts across Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Burma China, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The high-altitude and rough terrain of Zomia, as described by the American anthropologist James C. Scott, forms a natural barrier against the control of the nation-states that surround it, thus serving as a shelter for a variety of non-state peoples such as ethnic minorities, guerillas of forgotten wars and drug empires. The Sulu Sea is a marginal sea between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, bordered in the South by Borneo and in the North by the labyrinthine archipelagoes of the Philippines. Historically rich in maritime commerce, the Sulu Sea is also rife with slave raiding and piracy, and is today the stage for the activities of terrorist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf. In the conceptual matrix developed by the two curators, Zomia and the Sulu Sea function as tropes for the intersection of geography and politics, altitudes and anarchism.

Another axis in the diagram stretches from “Clouds” in the earth’s troposphere to “Minerals” beneath the earth’s surface. To view human histories against the horizon of clouds and minerals is to open these narratives up to the roles of non-human elements and non-human scales of time. Such an expanded notion of history seems fitting for our historical moment—which is one of ecological catastrophe at a planetary level. One of the questions driving this edition of the Asian Art Biennial is how the unfinished project of decolonization intersects with these new concerns.

This Biennial will feature both existing works and new commissions, many of which are characterized by cross-disciplinary research from which unexpected correspondences and connections are established. A total of 30 artists and collectives from 16 countries will be featured in The Strangers from beyond the Mountain and the Seas: Asian Art Biennial 2019. The participating artists are Antariksa (Indonesia), Chiang Kai-Chun (Taiwan), Chiu Chen-Hung (Taiwan), Shilpa Gupta (India), Jiandyin (Jiradej Meemalai and Pornpilai Meemalai) (Thailand), Hiwa K (Iraq), Liu Chuang (China), Liu Yu (Taiwan), Gilad Ratman (Israel), Timur Si-Qin (Germany), Yuichiro Tamura (Japan), Sawangwongse Yawnghwe (Burma), Open-Contemporary Art Center (Taiwan)+ Lifepatch (Indonesia), Ting Chaong-Wen (Taiwan), and Wang Hong-Kai (Taiwan), Korakrit Arunanondchai & Alex Gvojic (with Boychild) (Tailand), Roslisham Ismail (a.k.a ISE)(Malaysia), Charles LIM (Singapore), HO Rui An (Singapore), Ming WONG (Singapore), LEE Ufan (Korean), PARK Chan-Kyong (Korean), Zuleikha Chaudhari (India), Maya Watanabe (Peru/ Netherlands), Snow Huang/Against Again Troupe (Taiwan), Guo Fengyi (China), Tcheu Siong (Laos), Senyawa (Indonesia), Wang Sishun (China), Yee I-Lann (Malaysia).

A series of conferences, workshops and performances will unfold in parallel with the biennial. For more details, please refer to the official website:

Curator’s biography

Hsu Chia-Wei
Graduated from Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains, France, HSU Chia-Wei regards the images production process itself as a real action in the practice of art, developing an alternative relationship among people, material and place. Hsu has had solo exhibitions at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2018), Hong-Gah Museum, Taipei, Taiwan (2016) and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2015). He has participated in exhibitions at EyeFilmmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2019), Biennials at Shanghai, Gwangju, Busan and Sydney (2018), 2 or 3 Tigers at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany (2017), Taipei Biennale, Taipei, Taiwan (2016), HUGO BOSS Asia Art at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China (2013) and The 55th Venice Biennale at Palazzo Ducale, Venice, Italy (2013). He is also the curator of Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition at Hong-GahMuseum, Taipei, Taiwan (2018) and ThaiTai: A Measure of Understanding at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Bangkok, Thailand (2012).

Ho Tzu Nyen
Ho Tzu Nyen makes films, installations and theatrical performances that often begin as engagements with historical and philosophical texts and artifacts. His recent works are populated by metamorphic figures such as the weretiger (One or Several Tigers, 2017), the triple agent (The Nameless, 2015), the traitor (The Mysterious Lai Teck, 2018) under the rubric of The Critical Dictionary of Southeast, an ongoing umbrella project which uses the fuzzy outlines of the heterogeneous and contradictory region as a generator of narratives. His solo exhibitions include: Kunstverein in Hamburg (2018), Ming Contemporary Art Museum (Shanghai, 2018), Guggenheim Bilbao (2015), DAAD Galerie (2015), Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012). He represented the Singapore Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). And recent group exhibitions include the 12th Gwangju Biennale (2018); 2 or 3 Tigers at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2017); the 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014); the 2nd Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014). His theatrical works have been presented at The Kampnagel, Hamburg (2018); TPAM (2018); Asian Arts Theatre, Gwangju (2015); the Kunsten Festival des Arts (2018). His films have been presented at the Berlin Film Festival; Sundance Film Festival; Cannes Film Festival; Venice Film Festival; Locarno Film Festival and Rotterdam.

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The Strangers from beyond the Mountain and the Sea
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