日期：2020-02-22 ~ 2020-05-31
Abstract expressions and contemporary concepts presented in exhibitions are perhaps sometimes difficult for people to grasp fully; however, when they see images of familiar plants or fruits, it is more likely for them to engage in enthusiastic discussions. Betel nut, sugarcane, banana, and palm tree are closely connected to this island’s daily landscape, culinary culture, and industrial system; to the dwellers of this item, these are familiar plants and not strange and exotic botanical specimens. What the artworks on view in this exhibition seek to highlight is a way to rediscover the direct connections between modern and contemporary Taiwanese art and everyday experiences in Taiwan. Furthermore, an attempt is also made to understand the role of Taiwanese artists within this context.
During the Japanese colonial period in Taiwan, poet Mitsuru Nishikawa often referred to Taiwan as Karei-Tō, or beautiful island. After the war, the Nationalist government that retreated to Taiwan often called the island, Baodao, or treasure island. The term, Formosa, which also means beautiful island, was used as an inviting and appealing name by those in the Tangwai Movement when Taiwan was still under martial law (tangwai literally means “outside of the party”). All of these names share one thing in common, which is that Taiwan is a beautiful island full of treasures. Colonizers, rulers, or common everyday people have projected their imagination of the island through the various perspectives that they hold. In addition to the yam-shaped island that we see on maps, the most direct imageries that embody all of these imaginations of Taiwan are the tropical plants that are seen throughout the island. Betel nut is one of the rare crops that has been passed down from Taiwan’s Austronesian culture to its Han Chinese migrant society. It has also been discriminated at various levels throughout the process of modernization. Sugarcane and banana were also prevalently planted in the colonial period to boost economic development, and the industry link formed based on these crops had come to shape the industrial landscape of Taiwan. Palm trees were introduced by the colonial regime for the exotic viewing pleasures that the plant provides, which had, subsequently, become a central element of Taiwan’s urban landscape.
The objective of this exhibition is to examine the aforementioned four plants through artworks by artists from various periods in time. The photographs taken by Scottish explorer John Thomson when he travelled to Taiwan for the first time at the end of the 19th century show the island of Taiwan in a very natural state. With subsequent colonization and modernization, sugar plants, banana and betel nut groves became common scenes in Taiwan’s rural areas, and palms and migrant society formed the common urban landscape seen in Taiwanese cities. Betelnut, banana, palm were once ubiquitous in Taiwan, and sugarcane was the only agricultural product that was processed and sold by the government after the war; therefore, sugarcane fields and sugar refineries played a memorable part in many Taiwanese people’s childhood. Because of these reasons, these things are deeply imprinted in Taiwanese people’s lives. When we try to describe them, we are not just describing natural landscapes; they are a part of Taiwanese people’s memories, experiences in life, and also historical consciousness.
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