Taiwan participates in the Venice Art Biennale since 1995. After several group exhibitions, three solo exhibitions followed: Wu Tien-chang: Never Say Goodbye (2015), Tehching Hsieh: Doing Time (2017), and Shu Lea Cheang: 3x3x6 (2019). This time, 2022, Taiwan looks back at all these shows with an retrospective titled “Impossible Dreams”. “Impossible Dreams” consists of two parts: firstly, the “archival display” curated by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, which presents the archives and revisits works from the Taiwan Exhibition from 1995 to 2019; secondly, the “international forums”, which is presided over by Philippine veteran curator Patrick Flores as chief convener.
The “archival display” at Palazzo delle Prigioni in Venice presents exhibition photos, visuals and publicity designs of previous editions of the Taiwan’s exhibitions, as well as behind-the-scenes material. Several works from previous editions, including Yao Jui-Chung’s Territory Takeover, Tsui Kuang-Yu’s Shortcut to the Systematic Life, Tang Huang-Chen’s I Go Travelling V – A Postcard with Scenery, Tsai Ming-Liang’s It’s a Dream, Chen Chieh-Jen’s Empire’s Borders I, Chang Chien-Chi’s China Town series and Tehching Hsieh’s Jump are on display.
By the way, we have been covering Taiwan’s exhibitions at the Venice Biennale since 2015, and the films we produced about Wu Tien-chang: Never Say Goodbye (2015), Tehching Hsieh: Doing Time (2017), and Shu Lea Cheang: 3x3x6 (2019) are also featured in the exhibition. We are very happy and grateful about that.
Impossible Dreams / Taiwan in Venice / Biennale Arte 2022. Venice (Italy), April 21, 2022.
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Titled Impossible Dreams, the exhibition will look back on how the Taiwan’s cultural contexts and perspectives have been presented at this international art spectacle through diverse contemporary art that confronts history, society and pressing issues in our everyday lives over the 13 editions, ever since its first participation in the Biennale Arte in 1995. The event will consist of two parts: firstly, the “archival display” curated by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, which will present the archives and revisit works from the Taiwan Exhibition from 1995 to 2019; secondly, the “international forums” will be presided over by Philippine veteran curator Patrick Flores as chief convener.
Though the two aspirations in the title Impossible Dreams seem to move away from actuality and achievement, by reconsidering the meaning of “impossible” and “dreams”, the exhibition tries to cast aside the preconception about these two words and expand their interpretation. According to the theorist Drucilla Cornell, who meditates on Derrida’s theory of the impossible, time or temporality “keeps open the ‘not yet,’ but as part of experience.” Based on this proposition, “Impossible” here means “not-yet possible”, a description of a condition and a hope for better things, people, and worlds to come. As for “dreams”, they are vessels, stations, and visions that complicate time and dimension; they create chances of passage from reality to fantasy, from states of awareness to spheres of the unconscious; and ultimately set imaginations free. In the same breath, dreams flesh out fears, revisit pain and anxieties, and retell the stories of turbulent origins. Impossible Dreams acknowledges the constraints of the prevailing crisis and at the same time works towards the realization of a possibility, taking a retrospective look at and pointing to the prospects of Taiwan’s collateral presentation in the Biennale Arte.
In Impossible Dreams, the “archival display” and “international forums” evoke memory and trigger conversations, creating an exchange between discourse and perception to generate more dialogue through their content, thus becoming assemblies that address memory (archive) and presence (event).
The “archival display” in Venice will set up a space for memory to be reactivated, where the themes and curatorial concepts, exhibition photos, visuals and publicity designs of previous editions of the Exhibition, as well as the documentation and records of their making behind-the-scenes will be presented. Several works from previous editions, including Yao Jui-Chung’s Territory Takeover,Tsui Kuang-Yu’s Shortcut to the Systematic Life, Tang Huang-Chen’s I Go Travelling V – A Postcard with Scenery, Tsai Ming-Liang’s It’s a Dream, Chen Chieh-Jen’s Empire’s Borders I, Chang Chien-Chi’s China Town series and Tehching Hsieh’s Jump, will return as live archives, serving as references between the present and the past.
The “international forums” will be launched as online programs. The sessions will be hosted by chief convener Patrick Flores, independent curator Manray Hsu and Wu Mali, associate professor at the Graduate Institute of Transdisciplinary Art, National Kaohsiung Normal University, with participation of overseas and local scholars and artists. The forums are a means to encourage the co-existence of views and the departure from conventional knowledge, leading to an open-ended outcome. The four forums will rethink the Taiwan’s collateral presentation within the Biennale Arte from different standpoints, creating dynamic conversations with the previous exhibitions and responding to key issues in today’s world. They will focus on four themes:
The forum titled “What Makes a Pavilion? What does a Pavilion Make?” explores the origins and transformations of the Taiwan’s collateral presentation in Venice and reflects on the contexts from a historical perspective;
“Time, Body, Technology” focuses on performance and the investment of the Taiwan Exhibition in bodily initiations, and looks into the relationship between body, time and technology;
“Ecologies of History” dwells on the intimate relationship between nature and history, the migration of species, peoples, spirits, and the cosmologies underlying social phenomena;
“Freedom of Others/Other Freedoms” considers the disagreements and solidarities in the face of imperative political issues concerning freedom, violence, resistance, and so on.
Patrick Flores states: “The interaction between the archive and the forum will encourage a thoughtful reflection on the roles that contemporary art, curatorial practice, and the national pavilion play in the global art world today as they intersect at points of crisis and opportunity.”
TFAM director Jun-Jieh Wang says, “Taiwan has continued to communicate with the international art world through exhibitions of various types for nearly 30 years. This exhibition re-examines the dynamic relationship between our collateral presence and the Biennale Arte through archival display and international forums, and takes a step further to actively explore new paths for the future.”