日期：2019-03-30 ~ 2019-05-26
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei will present Atemschaukel—A Joined Exhibition of Liu Xia and Tsai Hai-Ru from March 30 to May 26, 2019. The exhibition features artworks created by these two female artists who are both family members to victims of political persecution, including Liu Xia’s twenty-six photographs and poetry as well as Tsai Hai-ru’s installation. Liu Xia, born and raised in Beijing, is a poet, an artist, and the wife of Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo. Being a political prisoner’s wife, she was illegally put under house arrest for nearly a decade. Liu Xia used to bear a terrifying life of isolation informed by her husband’s two years of imprisonment due to his alleged role in the Tiananmen Square protests, his three years of labor camp and another eleven years of imprisonment for the accusation of inciting subversion of state power; however, her life under constant surveillance filled with fear, solitude, distress and helplessness as a wife was an even larger prison. Tsai Hai-Ru comes from a family broken by the White Terror in Taiwan. During the 60s and 70s, her father, who attempted to rescue her incriminated grandfather in the February 28 Incident, was arrested and imprisoned for fourteen years as a political criminal after joining a book club and activities of the underground political party. Later, her father was involved in an espionage incident and was again imprisoned for ten years. Tsai Hai Ru’s life underwent a fundamental, qualitative change after discovering newspaper clippings about her father’s alleged espionage.
All family members of political victims live like a different kind of prisoners because their hearts are always with those in prison. In their everyday life, they have to bear incessant searches of police and security agencies, suffer collateral influences, undergo sneers of classmates, continuously lie to their children, or witness the painful scenes of children not recognizing their fathers. Being socially ostracized, their world gradually fade into darkness. However, the soul of an artist can usher in another world, stealthily bypassing the solid external world and forming a non-directional, indescribable existence of something that should have been impossible to exist; and it is incredibly powerful. Consequently, a different world unfolds and expands the vision of mankind. The hardships in life are transformed into artistic achievements. While the writings of Czesław Miłosz and Herta Müller express the extreme absurdities and sufferings the writers have endured, readers also perceive how they have comprehended and transcended their hardships to find the anchor in life and regain freedom, dignity and a unique sense of poetry. Their works, in truth, are splendid validations of their inner struggle and ultimate victory.
In her doll photography series, Liu Xia wrote in a poem called The Power of Silence to describe her mental state:
Living together with the dolls,
Surrounded by the power of silence
The world open around us
As Tsai Hai-ru herself wrote:
I’m a butterfly with giant wings.
You cannot see
I have forced my way through her forehead
The exhibition title, Atemschaukel (literally “Breath Swing”), is borrowed from the title of the prize-winning work by the Romanian laureate of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature, Herta Müller. In a highly poetic way, Müller delineates her mother’s personal experience and the daily scenes in a post-WWII Soviet Union labor camp, where terror permeates and arrests, tortures and murders could happen anytime. In a state of constant and fierce hunger, the act and steady rhythm of breathing subjects the human body and life a sense of existence and keeps one feeling alive—hence the title, Atemschaukel.
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