September 27, 2012 - Taipei Biennial - Modern Monsters / Death and Life of Fiction
September 27, 2012

Modern Monsters / Death and Life of Fiction

Willem Oorebeek, More ELLE, 2012. Lithography on paper mounted on dibond, 115 × 92 cm.

Taipei Biennial 2012: Modern Monsters / Death and Life of Fiction
September 29, 2012–January 13, 2013

Opening and preview: September 28, 2012

Taipei Fine Arts Museum
181, Zhong Shan N. Road, Sec. 3
Taipei 10461, Taiwan

T +886 2 2595 7656
F +886 2 2585 1886
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Organizer: Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Curator: Anselm Franke

The Taipei Biennial 2012 takes as its point of departure the ancient Chinese monster known as Taowu, whose evolution has been traced by the literary historian David Der Wei Wang in his book The Monster That is History. Wang shows that somewhere in the course of Chinese history, writers and historians began to identify the vicious monster Taowu with history itself, since it could foresee and thwart human intentions. The Taowu thus represents the human failure to master history and occupies the blind spot of different historical rationales. It is a fictional representation and symptomatic expression of that which notoriously escapes human reasoning and historical accounts. Wang suggests that it is modern Chinese history in particular that lends itself to a reading through the Taowu, against the backdrop of a twentieth century characterized by utopian aspirations notoriously overshadowed by systemic violence.

The Taipei Biennial 2012 explores the possibility that Taowu is a common experience of all modernity. It is the continuity of violence and brutality exerted in the name of enlightenment and rationality that turns the monster into a signifier of history. This is a history continuously buried in the contradictions of modern rationality itself. Yet rather than engaging with the mass cultural aesthetics of monstrosity—a “spectacle of violated boundaries”—the Biennial looks instead at dialectic strategies that address, expose, and disarm the anonymous, systemic monstrosity of modernity, speaking of the way its normative matrix strangles the imaginary of the present and our horizons of possibility.

This deadlock is disarmed in fiction, which reveals the blind spots of historiographic and documentary accounts, and which addresses the fundamental underside, the systemic terror, that lurks behind modernity’s emancipatory promises. Throughout the exhibition, the Taowu is encountered never as a stable identity or image, but as permanently shape-shifting inversions, which, situating us at the tilting point occupied by the Taowu, speak of the lives and deaths of fictions within the condition and mythology called modernity.

The Taipei Biennial 2012 engages with the re-narration of modern histories at these tilting points. Woven into the fabric of more than forty contributions are six mini-museums. These mini-museums, along with the works and projects surrounding them, move between documents and fictionalizations, creating a montage in which the very figure of the monster assumes ever-new identities. The result is a parcours of “multi-stable figures”—those well-known graphic depictions in which two different perceptions are possible, and the relation between figure and background can be reversed.

John Akomfrah, Maria Thereza Alves, Adam Avikainen, Ashish Avikunthak, Eric Baudelaire, Fernando Bryce, Chang Chao-Tang, Chen Chieh-Jen, Yin-Ju Chen, Yu-Cheng Chou, Jason Dodge, Jimmie Durham, Harun Farocki, Omer Fast, Peter Friedl, Simon Fujiwara, Andrea Geyer, Yervant Gianikian/Angela Ricci Lucchi, Virlani Hallberg, Hsu Chia-Wei, Hannah Hurtzig, Luis Jacob, Maryam Jafri, Chia-En Jao, Rajkamal Kahlon, Kao Chung-Li, Joachim Koester, Jompet Kuswidananto, Marysia Lewandowska / Neil Cummings, Liu Ding, Joven Mansit, Angela Melitopoulos/Maurizio Lazzarato, Jakrawal Nilthamrong, Boris Ondreička, Willem Oorebeek, The Otolith Group, Pak Sheung Chuen, Pratchaya Phinthong, Roee Rosen, Andreas Siekmann, Elisa Strinna, Sun Xun, Teng Chao-Ming, Rosemarie Trockel, Anton Vidokle/Hu Fang, Danh Vo, Wei-Li Yeh.

The Museum of Rhythm with Erick Beltrán, Francisco Camacho, Hanne Darboven, Juan Downey, Simone Forti, Frank B. Gilbreth, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Channa Horwitz, Ken Jacobs, Katarzyna Kobro, Labour Exchange Band, Richard Lin, Jean Painlevé, Gerhard Rühm, Tomo Savić-Gecan, Yashas Shetty and others, curated by Natasha Ginwala; The Museum of Ante-Memorials with Robert Filliou, Deimantas Narkevičius, and Peter Watkins, curated by Eric Baudelaire; The Museum of the Monster That Is History with Reza Abedini, Bavand Behpoor, James T. Hong, Hou Chun-Ming, Jei Li, Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, Eyal Weizman/Paulo Tavares/Steffen Krämer, Tony Chun-Hui Wu, Yao-Chung Wu and anonymous contributors, curated by James T. Hong and Anselm Franke; The Museum of Gourd with Chen Szuting, Ting-Ya Chang, Daizaburo Harada, Kung Yi-Fang, Hsu Ming-Sheng, Shiro Takahashi, curated by Chihiro Minato; The Museum of the Infrastructural Unconscious with Armin Linke and Ching-Yueh Roan and others, curated by John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog (Territorial Agency) and Anselm Franke, with Yi-Jen Chen and David Hellström; The Museum of Crossings with Virlani Hallberg, Lin Swallow Y., Hongjohn Lin, Tsai Chih-Hsien, curated by Hongjohn Lin and Anselm Franke.

Taipei Biennial
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