artists & participants
The 5th Asian Art Biennial will officially open at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA) on September 19. This year's theme is Artist Making Movement, curated by the museum in-house curator Iris Shu-Ping Huang. The theme is related to the observations and standpoints garnered in the past two years from the phenomena and creative trends observed in Asia's contemporary societies, reflecting on the tremendous social structural changes occurring in Asia in the midst of globalized political and economic developments. Asia's multilateral relations have prompted shifts in societies and cultural surroundings, and with resources opened for sharing and exchanges, it also indicates the involvement of more frequent and complex power plays. Movements initiated via art symbolize the counterbalance and transformation between the self and the external system and surrounding; through the creative medium that is art, discussions and responses towards public issues are sparked. The theme of Artist Making Movement hopes to examine the roles played by contemporary artists in Asia's shifting environment and concept, how art-making might demonstrate the ability to "move," and whether artists can garner the power to influence broader society. No longer willing to just explore within the pure art world, artists are crossing their art practices with social reality and with issues happening in politics, economy, mass media, urban space, architecture, ecology, etc. Moreover, artists also hope to use art to expand and breakthrough from reality.
Under the overarching theme of Artist Making Movement, the biennial intends to invite 28 contributing artists/collectives based in Asia to explore the following three main subcategories: Crossover and Mobility: Moving Away from Confinement; Archives and Memories: Reconstructing History, Truths and Questions; and Public Awareness and Micro-Movement. The biennial presents a diverse array of artworks, including public forum, video, art action and documentary film, performance, installation, painting, sculpture, audience participatory workshop.
Indonesian artist duo Irwan Ahmett & Tita Salin have created a new project for this biennial, which involves three months of social investigations, interviews with migrant workers, public space utilization, and interactions and contacts with workers and human right organizations. With a diversified research approach, efforts are placed in understanding the connections and existing conundrums between Southeast Asian migrant workers and the local society. Through an emotion-based perspective that includes humanitarian considerations, the project examines the sense of physical and mental imprisonment that both legal and illegal migrants are experiencing while working in a foreign land. These migrant workers are either drifting in a weak national legal system or left unprotected, and besides losing their legal rights, they have also lost a sense of security due to the conditions they are currently in. They are a group of people that are desired within Asia's economic production chain, but they are also the first group to be discarded. These are people that have become international drifters in a new Asia that has emerged due to globalization. They have moved away from their pre-existing hardship, but their struggles to survive have carried over to another location. For this artwork, artists Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina have come into contact with many stories from working or imprisoned migrant workers and also from their families. The sea has taken them to a new land to embark on a new journey of survival, and tears have become the imprints of their realties. In addition to the artwork Salting the Sea, the duo has also expanded this project that examines migrant workers' situations in Taiwan to a public level by launching a space for public discourse with the project Agree/Disagree/Unsure, which will initiate a reevaluation on how problems in Asia are dealt with based on the realistic conditions that these public issues have impacted Taiwan's economic and cultural position in Asia.