Jump to the content zone at the center

“Island Tales” celebrates Taipei-Perth sister city relationship

By Yali Chen
A new exhibition, “Island Tales: Taiwan and Australia|Taipei←→Perth,” opened on November 16 in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM). The cultural and artistic exchange celebrates the 20th anniversary of the sister city relationship between the City of Perth and Taipei.
Taipei’s sister city relationship with Perth began in 1999. In July 2019, Tsai Tsung-hsiung, Commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, signed an MOU with the City Government of Perth to strengthen arts and cultural exchanges.
Photo from TFAM
Photo from TFAM
From left to right, Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) curator Chien Cheng-yi; TFAM Director Ling Ping; Tsai Tsung-hsiung, Commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs; Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je; Gary Cowan, Representative of the Australian Office in Taipei; Amy Barrett-Lennard, Director of the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA); and PICA guest curator Ashley Chang at the opening ceremony of the
“Island Tales” exhibition in the TFAM on November 15.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the two cities’ sister relationship, the TFAM and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) worked together to hold a series of arts and cultural events, including the “Island Tales” exhibition. It will run until March 1, 2020.
“This exhibition is an important milestone for Taipei to promote cultural diplomacy and embodies the rich achievements of the capital in promoting international arts and cultural exchanges for many years,” Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je said at the opening ceremony of the exhibition on November 15.
The TFAM Director Ling Ping said that the collaboration between the two cultural institutions in both cities can help boost friendly relations between the cities.
Through this exhibition, viewers can better understand that Taiwan and Australia share many common cultural characteristics, said the PICA Director Amy Barrett-Lennard.
Both countries have indigenous cultures, the languages of Oceania, maritime traditions, and colonial histories. The cultural connections between the two nations are surprisingly strong despite a geographical distance from each other.
Reality intermingles with imagination
“Estuary: Return to the Novel”
Photo from TFAM
“Estuary: Return to the Novel” (2019) by Taiwan’s artists Kao Jun-honn, Abbot Lin
and Master Hsin-Miaw.
While visiting Perth to do research, TFAM curator Chien Cheng-yi was inspired by local cultures. She chose the concepts of “tales” and “storytelling” as the exhibition’s core themes. That’s why reality is intermingled with imagination throughout the exhibition.
Chien invited 13 contemporary artists and artist groups from Taiwan and Western Australia to explore the distinctive perspectives of both countries through tales, false histories, anecdotes, and personal memories.
Taiwanese artists and artist groups include Chang Wen-hsuan (張紋瑄), Liu Chih-hung (劉致宏), Chiu Chen-hung (邱承宏), Kao Jun-honn (高俊宏), Abbot Lin (林住持), Master Hsin-Miaw (心妙法師), Wang Ding-yeh (王鼎曄), and Yang Chi-chuan (楊季涓). Their artworks revolve around the narrative axis of history, cities and memories, deconstructing and reconstructing stories from Taiwanese people’s memories.
“The Compendium of Autobiographies” (2016) by Taiwanese artist Chang Wen-hsuan.
Photo from TFAM
“The Compendium of Autobiographies” (2016) by Taiwanese artist Chang Wen-hsuan.
Participating artists from Western Australia are Dan McCabe, Eva Fernandez, Gregory Pryor, Jacobus Capone, Olga Cironis, Pilar Mata Dupont, and the York Noongar community with Community Arts Network. Their creations also center on history, memories, and the connection to land. The exhibition is showcasing native animals, aboriginal symbols, and distinctive elements of Western Australian culture.
McCabe is a multidisciplinary visual artist. He explores social, environmental and political challenges in different communities all over the world. Working across sculpture, photography, video and installations, McCabe’s recent projects have looked at various concepts, including housing affordability, doomsday ideologies, contemporary spirituality, and the integration of AI technology into everyday life.
Toronto-born Fernandez lives and works in Perth. She has been a practicing artist for over two decades, working across digital-based media, installation and a wide variety of other mediums.
Her current work centers on her pluralistic identity, as she negotiates cultural dislocation within the context of contemporary issues of global displacement and the Spanish Diaspora in the 20th century.
Remote landscapes without an audience
“Double Enigma” (2018) by Australian artist Jacobus Capone.
Photo from TFAM
“Double Enigma” (2018) by Australian artist Jacobus Capone.
Capone is known for his ambitious performances that are often undertaken in remote landscapes without an audience. He uses his body to endure extreme conditions as a way of connecting to the environment he is in.
Capone’s practice spans performance, photography, video installation, painting and site-specific work. His creations were often evolved from durational performances.
In 2007, he crossed Australia on foot to deposit water from the Indian Ocean into the Pacific Ocean. His epic 13-chapter “Echo & Abyss” sees him engage in a series of encounters with harsh environments – immersion in a Swiss lake in winter, peering over cliffs on the notorious Eiger in the Bernese Alps, and traversing Greenland’s precarious ice sheet. Intimate and evocative gestures, played out in grandiose landscapes, give Capone his artistic palate.
Produced over two continents and two years, Capone’s latest work “Double Enigma” is a series of videos, photographs and trace objects. It documents his journey between a glacial lake in Tasmania and Svalbard, as well as an archipelago located between mainland Norway and the North Pole, to exchange water samples from the two locations.
The work engages durational performance and vast geological time to reflect on our precarious relationship with such threatened environments. There is an element of ritual and an almost religious feel to Capone’s futile yet poetic acts; perhaps of repentance.
Questioning the meaning of public and private space
Cironis is a WA-based multidisciplinary artist working in installation and performance. Informed by her Greek, Czech and Australian heritage, the artist investigates identity, connection to place and counter-histories.
She also examines notions of belonging, cultural globalization, appropriated histories and accepted attitudes on belonging in the Australian cultural and social landscape.
Within her work are layers of research, collected stories, muted voices and cultural heritage. Olga’s work is psychologically loaded with meaning, provoking and seducing viewers, navigating them through history and inviting them to question our social and environmental connections.
By engaging viewers to become part of her work, Olga questions the meaning of public and private space, plus gender and social norms that permeate our accepted actions.
Mata Dupont is a multidisciplinary artist working mainly in photography and film. Her video “Purgatorio” (2014) interprets the Kafkian bureaucracy that awaits immigrants and asylum seekers in Australia. The work won the Residency Prize to the Wexter Center for the Arts in the U.S. at the 19th Festival of Contemporary Art Sesc Videobrasil in October 2015.
Community Arts Network (CAN) is a non-profit community arts and cultural organization in Western Australia. It links local government, communities, artists, and researchers, providing funds for community-driven arts and cultural activities.
The “Welcome to Balardong” animation was produced during the CAN’s Rekindling Stories on Country program. Community members created hand-built clay sculptures, a large painted map, and stop-motion animated stories to show the history of York from a Noongar perspective. The figurines were then animated by digital artists Steve Aiton, Bradley Kickett and Mat Sav.
Indigenous cultural sharing events
“Welcome to Balardong”
Photo from TFAM
“Welcome to Balardong” (2019) by the York Noongar community with the Community Arts Network in Western Australia.
The TFAM also held a series of indigenous cultural sharing events to enhance cultural participation and artistic interaction between the two countries.
A storytelling session took place on November 16. Balardong storytellers Audrey Narkle Nettle and Tracey Kickett shared their experiences growing up in and around Western Australia’s oldest inland town, from childhood anecdotes and memories of family to everyday acts of resilience in the York town and on the reserve. They also conveyed their creation myths and the history of their homeland to viewers.
The storytelling session was part of the art project “Welcome to Balardong” to showcase the indigenous culture of Western Australia as well as the native tales and collective memories of the Balardong people.
On November 17, the participating artists from Western Australia visited the Xizhou tribe – home to members of the Amis people. They were accompanied by Chen Chun-bin (陳俊斌), an associate professor at Taipei National University of the Arts and an expert on indigenous music. Both sides exchanged their ideas on each other’s history and cultures, deepening the friendship between the two cities.
Located in the Xindian District, New Taipei City, the Xizhou community formed in the 1970s and 1980s. While moving into the city during the process of urbanization, the Amis people developed their own unique culture.
Another exhibition is “Unfolding Acts: New Art from Taipei and Perth,” organized by the PICA director Barrett-Lennard and Taiwanese-Australian guest curator Ashley Chang (張怡馨). It opened on October 19 at the PICA in Perth and will continue until December 22.
The two curators invited the Taiwanese artists Dondon Houmwm (東冬侯溫), Chou Yu-cheng (周育正), Lo Yi-chun (羅懿君), and Jao Chia-en (饒加恩四), to participate in this event.
Four artists and artist groups from Australia and New Zealand also showcased their works: Sharyn Egan, Pilar Mata Dupont, pvi collective, and the York Noongar community members with Community Arts Network.
The Perth exhibition aims to explore the similarities and differences in socio-economic phenomena, cultural backgrounds, and geographical environments between Taiwan and Australia. It also features the animated stories from the York Noongar community.