Jump to the content zone at the center

Epidemic distance—2021 art exhibition in Taipei’s Chengbei District

The first case of COVID-19 was reported in January 2020. By 2021, the collective panic that descended upon society was having a serious impact on economic activity and daily life, especially in the Taipei Chengbei district.
During the initial period of anxiety, media reports about suspected positive cases were based mainly on rumor. Social media was flooded with speculation about transmission routes. Talk about city lockdowns caused panic-buying and hoarding. In the chaos, the streets of the business district were left empty, in sharp contrast to the normal crowds and noisy atmosphere.
The implementation of preventative measures such as social distancing has reconfigured social relationships. The new “zero-contact economy” has spurred demand for and development of technological applications and service innovation. In this post-pandemic era, we are now being forced to continue to face drastic changes. The constant evolution in how businesses operate has changed. We now have a new way of life and we have to learn to live symbiotically.
The curatorial theme of “Epidemic Distance” refers to the impact of the pandemic on daily life in Chengbei. The exhibition reflects on the transformation of neighborhood businesses, the community ecology, and personal physical and mental states as a result of mandatory social distancing.
The exhibition artists spoke to people working in Zhongshan and Shuanglian Districts, with a focus on Nanxi Commercial District, speaking to hoteliers, small shop owners on Chifeng Street, and people at Shuanglian Market in a bid to understand their struggles and hardships.
The artists also spoke to the area chiefs about the problems they were facing at local levels: setting aside their own concerns about the risk of infection in order to reassure worried locals and devoting time to public service, including minority support, PPE distribution, and vaccination lists.
Disruption caused by false information and hoaxes during the pandemic has been reduced. And community open spaces still offer the chance to breathe and recover to some extent. With its clear waters and swimming fish, Gongqian Ding (Miyamaecho) is once more open for visits. The unanticipated slowdown of our urban lifestyle caused by the pandemic has allowed us to pause, compose ourselves and reexamine our close relationships and to think about what is important in life.
This exhibition brings together various artists who have recorded the resilience of Chengbei neighborhoods in response to the epidemic: Wang Wen-Shin, Chiang Chi-Yang, Lee Cheng-Tao, Chiu Chieh-Sen, Chou Hsueh-Han, Mamaisun (Liu Shang-Hsuan/Sun Yu-Nin), Cheng Wan-Chien, and Chung Ping-Hung. They used a wide range of sound, light and shadow, videos, installations, architectural landscapes, texts and images, to deliver a stable power in the face of uncertainty.
This is the 13th year of the cooperation project between MoCA and Jian Cheng Junior High School. This year, glove-puppet artist Hsueh Mei-Hua and dancer Willie Lin is giving classes in visual art and performance art, with the help of school supervisors Chang Chiao-Ming and Zhang Zhuo-Li.
In “Puppet Show on Live,” artist Hsueh Mei-Hua teaches students how to express themselves vocally through objects. Also serving as a potent metaphor for how the media works and the relationship between those pulling the strings and those being controlled, the puppet show sheds light on internet celebrities and microcelebrities and how they work behind the camera.
Artist Willie Lin uses the MoCA and school buildings as a stage to link historical memory and today’s younger generation. Students are inspired to feel the emotions and energy released in the body through 1920s swing. The film Swing Dance is a record of their achievements, showing them swinging at a brisk tempo, joining their arms through leaps and turns and leaving happy memories of their youth on the red brick walls of the school.
▍Epidemic distance—2021 art exhibition in Taipei’s Chengbei District
Time │ October 30 to December 26
Venue │ Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei and collaborating spaces nearby
Tel │ 02-2552-3721