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Shu Lea Cheang’s exhibition at Venice Biennale closes with rave reviews

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 Photo from TFAM
The entrance to Taiwanese artist Shu Lea Cheang’s “3×3×6” at the
Taiwan Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale.

By Yali Chen

The Taiwan Pavilion named “3x3x6” at the 58th Venice Biennale, created by Taiwan’s avant-garde artist Shu Lea Cheang, closed with rave reviews. A press conference on December 7 at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) summarized the work that made the project a success.
 
From May 11 through November 24, Cheang’s work received great acclaim from audiences and critics. Her solo exhibition had been listed as one of the must-see pavilions by many International media, such as “Archdaily,” “archipanic,” and “Hong Kong Tatler.” Professional art magazines also provided an in-depth analysis of her project.
 
At the entrance to the Taiwan Pavilion’s collateral exhibition, a sign warned visitors to the Palazzo Delle Prigioni that a surveillance system designed by the artist would record their movements.
 
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Photo from TFAM
This rotating projection tower designed by Shu Lea Cheang uses a 3D camera surveillance system to project the life-size images of ten historical and contemporary figures.
 
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Photo from TFAM
Installation view of Shu Lea Cheang’s “3×3×6” at the Taiwan Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale.

The Taiwan Pavilion was located in the Palazzo delle Prigioni, an old Venetian prison from the 16th century until 1922, across from the Palazzo Ducale. The legendary libertine writer Giacomo Casanova was imprisoned there in 1755. With the prison’s history as an inspiration, Cheang created her work “3x3x6.”
 
Upstairs in the main space of the former prison, the exhibition, curated by Spanish philosopher Paul B. Preciado, featured ten screens hanging in two concentric circles around a column of camera-like projectors.
 
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Photo from TFAM
Visitors to Shu Lea Cheang’s solo exhibition at the Taiwan Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale.

Faces from the footage of the pavilion’s visitors and selfies submitted via the Internet were projected on the screens. These images showed people walking along the city streets.
 
In the two adjacent spaces, ten monitors on the floor played short videos on historical and contemporary subjects who were incarcerated because of their “gender or sexual dissent.” The historical figures included Giacomo Casanova, French philosopher-writers Marquis de Sade and Michel Foucault.
 
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Photo from TFAM
Taiwan’s artist Shu Lea Cheang (third from left) and Spanish curator Paul B Preciado (first from left) at the opening ceremony of the Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale on May 9.

Cheang used the famous sexual renegades’ stories to challenge contemporary uses of surveillance and imprisonment by state power. Her ability to bridge discourses around gender, queer sexuality, AI, the surveillance state, and anti-colonial positions through her filmmaking skills and technical prowess made “3×3×6” one of the most original and compelling pavilions of the 2019 Venice Biennale.