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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 performances.

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 seeks to depict the spiritual state of our times from a variety of viewpoints: people, environment, ecology and ailment.
 
This is an exhibition that includes performances and audience feedback to the performances. It is not a static exhibition. From being mere spectators of art pieces on display, audiences find themselves immersed in an artistic experience. Their reactions to the performances they witness give them a real sense of presence and directness.

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Photo by LRM
Heterotopia Garden expresses the many unseen activities hidden behind the grand panoramas of human experience.

They develop a deeper consciousness or understanding of the art that is being presented. The artists create something concrete, while visitors see, think, and verbalize their thoughts. In this way, both artists and audience express the spiritual state of our times.
 
Twelve artists and artistic groups seek to present 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.
 
This exhibition spans art, literature and science in an attempt to construct a vision of reality, life and thought, and environmental sustainability. It does this through static displays and live art of its 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. FAMEME is the digital persona of artist Cheng-Ta Yu who through his company “Durian Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.” has set up a store in TFAM. It sells “MST” pills which purport to provide health and prevent disease.
 
Ching-Yueh Roan’s Wavering on a Mountain Path- A Rescue Plan for My Novel expresses the influence of media on individuals and society. Words are irreplaceable in the process of civilization. But today’s media society is undermining the power of words.
 
Hui-Chih Hsu’s Words that Heal is a writing action performance that explores the origins and orientations of “words” and their impact on “the heart.” Hsu reminds us that text can lead people to contemplate deeply and seek to improve their private worlds.
 
Evolving Society

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Photo by LRM
Exhibitors and performers for the exhibition.
 
Human society increasingly moves toward specialized technical skills and multitasking. Amidst everyone’s clamor and busyness, we simply reproduce and accelerate things that already exist without creating anything new. Moreover, people are increasingly concerned about survival, turning human society into a jungle. Within this scenario, Chia-Ying Chang has created a new world – the “HAHA” sect with its buildings, a temple with paintings and images. Chang reminds those of us who are hyperactive to rebuild our capacity for deep concentration to understand that we dwell in merely over-visualized space.
 
The Gesture II shows vigorous hand gestures, painted amulets and other exorcism rituals in 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 the cultural landscape that is in turn gradually being eroded in an evolving society.
 
In 14 Kinds of Exercise with Endurance, Chen-Wei Lee uses her own body to convey the physical experience of different extreme states. These states reflect the cadence and velocity at 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, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon and strewn with bottled drinking water from many different countries. A big beach ball heightens a virtual holiday scene. James Ming-Hseuh Lee’s “spice beach” evokes the historical ghosts of the struggle for spices in the 15th and 16th centuries. The spice-centered trade wars and political strife of the past foreshadowed the wars of today triggered by oil, finance and epidemics.
 
New Parameters of Human Existence
 
Under the azure sky, nature, the universe and the stars reveal many meanings. We experience the omnipresence and omnipotence of the world of the intellect, but we are also now seeing the foundation laid by human technology beginning to tremble. Heat waves, droughts, floods, infectious diseases, and changes to the climate never seen before threaten the wellbeing of humans and many other species. The outbreak of Covid-19 is like an omen that reveals the threat that globalization poses on the earth’s environment. As we humans find ourselves plagued by the novel coronavirus, we must re-examine the conditions that would ensure our continued existence in this world. Our living environment needs to be evaluated. We need to define the parameters of the decisions we must make to deal with the new situation that we ourselves have created.
 
Conclusion: A Garden
 
In a garden, seeds become plants and thrive in varying environments. Some reach a state of growth and remain in that state, until they wilt or are eaten by predators. On the other hand, human beings change through time. Some may cease to exist due to diseases or wars. But nature never seems 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 hidden behind the grand panoramas of human experience. We may see a person before us, but their personal lives and histories remain a mystery to us even though their lives are mysteriously interwoven with ours. Heterotopia Garden is a mirror of the subtle bonds that bind each one to everyone and to the world.
 
It is in this garden where we finally understand ourselves and others; where we finally reach a conclusion.