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Between Earth and the Sky: The Spiritual State of Our Times

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Photo from DOCA
TFAM’s on-going exhibition Between Earth and the Sky is a live exhibition that includes performance.

Rewritten by Ariston Ramos
From August 1 to October 18, 2020, Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) is staging the exhibition “Between Earth and the Sky: The Spiritual State of Our Times” in Galleries 1A and 1B.
Curated by TFAM curator Jo Hsiao and guest curator Yi-Wei Keng, “Between Earth and the Sky” is a live exhibition that depicts the spiritual state of our times from various angles: people, the environment, ecology, and health.
This is not a static exhibition—it includes both performance and audience feedback. Rather than being mere spectators of art pieces on display, audience members find themselves immersed in an artistic experience.

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Photo by LRM
Heterotopia Garden shows some of the many unseen activities that are hidden out of sight of our everyday experience.

Their reactions to the performances give them a real sense of presence and directness and they develop a deeper consciousness or understanding of the art that is being presented. The artists create something concrete, while visitors see and think and verbalize their thoughts. In this way, both artists and audience express the spiritual state of our times.
Twelve artist groups are taking part in this exploration of the connection between the immediate moment and the spectacle of daily life: Cheng-Ta Yu, Chia-Ying Chang, Liang-Hsuan Chen + Musquiqui Chihying, Chen-Wei Lee, Baboo, Ching-Yueh Roan, Hui-Chih Hsu, James Ming-Hseuh Lee, Clockwork Noses, Chih-Chung Chang, Shu-Yuan Wu + Slow Geng, and Resident Island Dance Theatre.
The exhibition spans art, literature, and science in an attempt to construct a vision of reality, life, thought, and environmental sustainability through static displays and live art on four themes: Media Society, Evolving Society, New Parameters of Human Existence, and Conclusion: A Garden. 
Media Society

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Photo by LRM
TFAM Director Ping Lin, center, with exhibition curators Jo Hsiao, left, and Yi-Wei Keng.
FAMEME is a web celebrity and the digital persona of artist Cheng-Ta Yu, who through his company Durian Pharmaceutical has set up a store at TFAM that sells “MST” pills which purport to improve health and prevent disease.
Ching-Yueh Roan’s Wavering on a Mountain Path—A Rescue Plan for My Novel looks at the influence of the media on people and society. Language is a key part of the process of civilization, but more and more the media are undermining the clear and honest use of words.
Hui-Chih Hsu’s Words that Heal is a writing action performance that explores the origins and trajectories of words and their emotional impact. Hsu reminds us that texts can make people think deeply and try to improve their own lives.
Evolving Society

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Photo by LRM
Exhibitors and performers at the exhibition.
Human society is increasingly moving toward specialized technical skills and multitasking. In the clamor and bustle of everyday life, we simply reproduce things that already exist and try to accelerate the process without creating anything new. With the devastation of climate change, people are becoming increasingly concerned about survival, which threatens to turn human society into a jungle. Against this backdrop, Chia-Ying Chang has created the new world of HA.HA, with its buildings, a temple with paintings, and images. Chang reminds the hyperactive among us to rebuild our capacity for deep concentration and to understand that we dwell in an over-visualized space.
The Gesture II shows vigorous hand gestures, painted amulets, and other rituals of exorcism from 1990s zombie movies from Hong Kong and Taiwan. This film exhibition proposes solutions to the current coronavirus epidemic. Liang-Hsuan Chen + Musquiqui Chihying show how the gestures and symbols found in folk beliefs reveal a cultural landscape that is gradually being eroded in our evolving society.
In 14 Kinds of Exercise with Endurance, Chen-Wei Lee uses her body to convey the physical experience of various extreme states that reflect the cadence and velocity with which our bodies are being propelled forward in our evolving society.
Post—Beach of Spices is a display case containing artificial beach sand made of salt, pepper, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon and strewn with bottles of water from various countries. A big beach ball heightens the virtual holiday scene. James Ming-Hseuh Lee’s “spice beach” evokes the ghosts of the historical struggle for spices in the 15th and 16th centuries. The trade wars and political strife over spices in the past foreshadowed today’s wars over oil, finance, and epidemics.
New Parameters of Human Existence
Our natural world, the stars beyond, and the whole universe are oceans of meaning. And although the power of the intellect is everywhere, apparently controlling everything, we are now also seeing the foundations of human technology begin to tremble. Heatwaves, drought, floods, infectious disease, and changes to the climate never before seen threaten our wellbeing and that of many other species. The COVID-19 outbreak is a sign of the threat that globalization poses to the environment. As we deal with the plague of the novel coronavirus, we must re-examine the conditions that ensure our continued existence in this world. We have to evaluate our living environment and define the parameters of what we have to do to deal with this new world that we ourselves have created.
Conclusion: A Garden
In a garden, seeds become plants and thrive in various environments. Some grow to maturity and then wilt or are eaten. Human beings, too, change through time: some cease to exist due to disease or war. But Nature seems never to change: the countless micro-changes that lie beneath the grand vistas escape the human eye.
Shu-Yuan Wu + Slow Geng’s Heterotopia Garden expresses the many unseen activities that are inaccessible to our experience. Other people, even those closest to us, remain mysterious—their inner lives inaccessible. Heterotopia Garden is a mirror of the subtle bonds that bind each of us to everyone else and to the world.
It is in this garden that we finally understand ourselves and each other, where we finally reach a conclusion.