09 October, 2008

Taipei Biennial - First Visit

When is a video a work of art, and when is it a short film? When is a Biennial an art exhibition and when is it a film festival?

I made my first visit to the Biennial this week. There was a sculptural installation in the foyer, and after that it was mostly film. The majority of the visit was spent on the ground floor where there was a wall mural, some fibre glass 'turd' sculptures and an artist book, both props to films, some documentary photographs and everything else was video.

After a break at the basement cafeteria, a survey of the second floor revealed more video and an installation of printed political protest material. We did not have time to complete the exhibition.

The theme was globalisation and much of the material presented was political or descriptive. It was difficult to find any "art" in the traditional sense. It was also impossible to view all the works in their entirety in one day, so these are preliminary observations.

One work was a twenty minute power point style presentation, and there were no seats. I question whether any visitor actually saw the entire piece, I wasn't willing to sit on the concrete floor for that long.

Works of note included
Mario RIZZI 's "Chicken Soup" , Shaun GLADWELL 's videos, and an amusing piece by Nevin Aladag. Chicken Soup examined the mail order bride industry between Vietnam and Taiwan and was culturally enlightening. Aladag's "Lowrider Bellydance" from 2004 was amusing in its comparison between the macho world of cruising cars and the ancient female tradition of bellydance.

The wall mural by
Bbrother was not recognisable as 'graffiti' and was inferior in concept and execution to much of the graffiti that I had photographed near the Sun Yat Sen Memorial building the week before (above).

It will take a second visit to the main venue and visits to the satellite sites to complete the exhibition. Despite the fact that the show continues until January, they were almost sold out of English Language catalogues.


I watched both of Shaun GLADWELL
's video's in their entirety. It was pleasant to re-visit the Australian bush and a Tangara train (even if inverted). The obvious reference to Boyd's Narcissus etchings was overlooked in the catalogue. Not once, until I read the catalogue entry, did I think of Mad Max.

Gladwell's "Storm Sequence" and other videos can be viewed here:

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