Artist News │ Peng Yi-Hsuan Joins “Subzoology: 2020 Taiwan Biennial”

Subzoology: 2020 Taiwan Biennial

Dates: On view until February 28, 2021 (closed Mondays)
Venues: National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts 101-108, 202 Gallery, Lobby, Gallery Street, Museum Outdoor Area, spaces in “satellite event” and “collateral events”
Address: No.2, Sec. 1, Wuchuan W. Rd., Taichung, Taiwan
Curator: YAO Jui-Chung

Exhibition Website: taiwanbiennial.ntmofa.gov.tw

In the post-pandemic era, the ostensibly provocative theme of “SubZoology” for the 2020 Taiwan Biennial is a concerned response to international issues that explore the relationship between humans and animals through science, art and philosophy. The curator uses the Buddhist theological concepts of the Animal Realm from the Six Realms of Existence, as a point of entry to reflect on bestial qualities of humans as a subcategory of the animal kingdom. Differences between “human animals” and “non-human animals” are explored as a response to discussions on long-established dichotomies and commonalities that exist between humans and beasts. At the same time, in light of this post-pandemic era when symbiosis and homology between humans and animals are reality, and when viruses spill over their original host organisms for mutual transmission between humans and beasts — as one of the Earth’s species, human beings have become profoundly aware of the crises and possibilities for coexistence with other organisms. As the audience moves through the zoo-like exhibition space, they have opportunity to reflect on human dominion over other lifeforms through the variety of organisms and ecologies constructed by artists as a response to and as an extension of ecological and environmental issues of the Anthropocene – a topic of focus in recent biennial exhibitions around the world.

Some 49 artists and collectives with Taiwan experience have been invited to participate and exhibit at the 7th Taiwan Biennial. Through their creative themes, these emerging new-generation artists invite the audience to further imagine and discuss contemporary art and social issues through diverse exhibition formats including visual art, sound art, and live performance, on a scale that far exceeds past biennials. In addition, the exhibition arena will extend from the Museum itself to the Taichung Museum of Marine Ecology and the Daan Matsu Cultural Park on the outskirts of Taichung. And, for the first time, the biennial will collaborate with external spaces beyond the central Taiwan area in “satellite events” (VT Artsalon in Taipei) as well as “collateral events” (Waley Art in Taipei, Acid House in New Taipei City, Zit-Dim Art Space in Tainan, and Henan 8 in Kaohsiung). With the NTMOFA as a core, this new curatorial format seeks to link local artistic actions and practices from across Taiwan. Artistic creativity is taken out of the museum context to broaden the interdisciplinary domain and perspectives of the Taiwan Biennial to proactively develop local art in Taiwan.

The Death of Light: seven times seven equals forty-nine, 2020, mosquito lamp, dimensions variable.

The installation of Peng Yi-Hsuan is named No regret strategy combined three works of The Death of Light: seven times seven equals forty-nine, The Smell of Sunshine, and Link. The two works The Death of Light: seven times seven equals forty-nine, The Smell of Sunshine as response to the battle between invaders and defenders in the onslaught of war; as reflection of disinfection measures during the COVID-19 pandemic as well. Link apparatuses are installed on the pristine white walls in the sterile, vacuum-sealed room. The artist writes messages remotely on a mobile device and ghostly messages automatically appear on whiteboards in the unmanned UV room, hinting at the return of ghostly souls.

Subzoology: 2020 Taiwan Biennial onsite views. Courtesy of National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.

Subzoology: 2020 Taiwan Biennial onsite views. Courtesy of National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.

Subzoology: 2020 Taiwan Biennial onsite views. Courtesy of National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.

Subzoology: 2020 Taiwan Biennial onsite views. Courtesy of National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.