September 25, 2016 - Taipei Fine Arts Museum - Declaration / Documentation: Taipei Biennial, 1996–2014
September 25, 2016

Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Cheng-Ta Yu, Ode to the Taipei Biennial, 2016. Single-channel video installation.

Declaration / Documentation: Taipei Biennial, 1996–2014
August 13, 2016–February 5, 2017

Taipei Fine Arts Museum
No. 181 Zhongshan N. Road Sec. 3
Taipei 10461

Curator: Sharleen Yu
Archivist: Chen Shu-Ling
Event Planners: Manray Hsu, Lu Pei-Yi

Held once every two years, the Taipei Biennial is Taipei Fine Arts Museum’s premier international exhibition exploring the confluence between Taiwanese and international contemporary art. This year, we celebrate the Taipei Biennial’s 20th anniversary. Now, as we commemorate two full decades of the Taipei Biennial, TFAM presents the special exhibition Declaration / Documentation: Taipei Biennial, 1996–2014. By producing an archive, presenting exhibits and hosting a series of forums, we recollect and cast a new gaze upon the evolution of the Taipei Biennial. And as we turn around to look back, we hope to find the coordinates and perspectives to solve new problems and achieve new creations.

In 1996 then TFAM director Chang Chen-Yu proposed a major transformation for the Taipei Biennial, aimed at keeping in stride with the trends in biennials elsewhere round the world and elevating Taiwanese contemporary art in the eyes of the international art community. Firstly, the museum invited an international curator to organize a themed exhibition, and secondly, instead of soliciting submissions from the public, artists were invited to participate based on how well their art dovetailed with the Biennial’s theme. In 1998 the museum strategically invited renowned international curator Fumio Nanjo, initiating the first truly international biennial at TFAM. Over the course of 20 years, the Taipei Biennial has proven itself, within the context of others biennials and triennials throughout the world, to be a strongly issue-oriented medium-sized exhibition. As we have sought to balance awareness of the international art world with the central importance of our own land, the central core of art with its marginal regions, our method of organization has evolved in many ways. A co-curatorship shared by an international and a local curator has given way to a single international curator. Originally executed only by an in-house team, the Biennial has expanded to include partnerships with organizations outside the museum. The exhibition space has also expanded from galleries inside the museum to other venues nearby and in other areas of the city.

The word “Declaration” in the exhibition title reflects our aspiration to unveil the voices, articulations, expressions, gestures and poses of past curators and artists as they responded to the contemporary world and everyday life through their exhibitions and artworks within the halls of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Based on extant documentation, the exhibition is organized in three parts—archives, exhibits and panel discussions.

The framework of the archive takes the form of a website—an extension of the Taipei Biennial in a virtual space. It spans all ten previous Biennials, from 1996 to 2014, including curatorial statements, artists’ works and projects, online exhibitions, reports and reviews, a timeline, data graphics, as well as texts, photographs, manuscripts and audiovisual recordings, all available to the public to access and study.

Over the past 20 years, some of the artists completed their works by changing the positions of their own bodies, pursuing site-specific themes from the vantage points of different cultural backgrounds, exploring, studying, blending into and coming to understand this locality, even inviting visitors to participate. Consequently, the exhibition gallery not only displays physical artifacts such as posters, brochures and artists’ project manuscripts, but also exhibits themes and events centered on site-specificity, including works created on premises specially for Taipei Biennials of the past. For example, at the 2000 Taipei Biennial, the Austrian artist Erwin Wurm made a documentary of his “One Minute Sculptures” in Taiwan, and in 2012 the Danish artist Virlani Hallberg engaged in a field survey and interviews to produce the video Receding Triangular Square. Other art projects began at a Taipei Biennial but continued after it had finished: for example, Jin-Hua S! hi’s Auction and X Trees. Finally, we have specially invited Yu Cheng-Ta and Chou Yu-Cheng, both Taipei Biennial alumni artists, to create new works integrating sound and text, which resonate with elements from past Biennials.

Our hope is to encourage people to remember and reconsider archives of the past that seem to have fallen still, or have even been forgotten, to ponder them and talk about them again, and breathe new life into them. To this end, we have organized a series of forums, divided into two segments. The first "Conversations. Biennial" features international curators of previous Taipei Biennials, returning to TFAM to field queries and to engage in dialogue with Taiwanese curators and art professionals, exchanging insights and experiences. The second portion is a "Biennalathon"—a series of marathon art discussions among a wide variety of art professionals, pondering how Taiwanese art has changed over the last 20 years in such aspects as creative methods, the art ecosystem, institutions and policies, and international exchanges. All events will be recorded audiovisually, becoming documentary products of the Taipei Biennial in their own right. Based on the curatorial concept of exp! loring new ways to remember, read, perceive and revitalize archives of previous Biennials, the exhibition aims to achieve a more complete feeling, comprehension and vantage point on Taipei Biennials of the past, and even the future.  

"Conversations. Biennial"
Location: TFAM Art Library

"Art Museum as Theatre—Taipei Biennial 2002"
Panelist: Bartomeu Marí+ Chia Chi Jason Wang / Moderator: Keng Yi-wei
Saturday, October 29, 2–5pm

"Reflecting Biennial—Toward a New Vision of Curatorial Practice"
Panelist: Wanh Jun-jieh, Cheng Huei-hua, Chen Chieh-Jen, Ping Lin / Moderator: Lu Pei-Yi
Saturday, November 5, 2–5pm

"Biennial as a Method of Institutional Critique—Taipei Biennial 2010"
Panelist: Tirdad Zolghadr+Hongjihn Lin / Moderator: Freya Chou
Saturday, November 12, 2–5pm

"Remapping Asia—1998 Taipei Biennial"
Panelist: Nanjo Fumio, Lin Mun-Lee, Lee Yuh-Ling / Moderator: Chiang Po-hsin
Friday, November 18, 2:30–5:30pm

"Revisiting Modernity—Taipei Biennial 2012"
Panelist : Anselm Franke, Manray Hsu / Moderator: Roan Ching-Yueh
Saturday, November 19, 2–5pm

"Art as Social Discourse—Taipei Biennial 2008"
Panelist: Vasif Kortun +Manray Hsu / Moderator: Mali Wu
Friday, November 25, 2–5pm

Location: Polymer Art Space
Moderator: Manray Hsu
Friday and Saturday, December 3–4, 12–6pm

For more on public events, please visit our official website.

Taipei Fine Arts Museum
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