Post-pop artist ‘Never Say Goodbye’
allude to the country’s mixed past of pain and joys. These seemingly parallel and opposing feelings have struck a balance in Wu’s art through which he invites viewers to question their past, present and future.
With this principle in mind, the artist projects his “sexual” aspirations for the past, present and future through a model wearing a latex membrane mask acting under the spell of old Taiwanese songs in three video installations. In the first setting, the model performs a magic act with a plastic tree; in the second installation, the model stares at you while wearing various military costumes and sadomasochistic gear on his mouth; and in the third instance, the model walks down memory lane in sailor costume at different military bases. The three video installations, titled “Unforgettable Lover” (2013-2015, 難忘的愛人), “Beloved” (2013-2015, 心所愛的人) and “Farewell, Spring & Autumn Pavilions” (2013-2015, 再見春秋閣) respectively, will be displayed alongside two photographs on light boxes in the spaces of the Palazzo delle Pri- gioni, a former prison situated next to the Palazzo Ducale.
“Our Hearts Beat as One” ( 2001- 2015, 永協同心) and “Blind Men Groping down the Lane” ( 2008- 2015, 瞎子摸巷) again evoke memories and nostalgia embedded within each of us while reflecting the lingering limitations of life. Throughout his works, he crafts and directs the passage of time, as it unfolds in his complex and shifting sequences. Through these, the artist also denounces the contradictions between the medium, photographs and video installations, and the narrative fiction that it produces.
“The props used in my video installations originate from my childhood memories. When the television had yet to reach the common household, and our only forms of entertainment were on the streets,” Wu said. He recalled the magicians selling home remedies in the night market and the traveling stuntmen who per- formed shows and circus acts on demand.
Back at that time, he pointed out that performers would also build temporary stages to welcome deities with traditional Taiwanese puppet shows featuring individual characters with strong, internal personalities that can be easily identified by their external appearances. Perhaps that is the unique Taiwanese folk and pop culture that he hopes the Western public will notice, already enjoying the various interpretations or responses his works will bring due to the different audiences. In his own words, he wants to “reconnect our soul with contemporary political phenomena.”
Born in Changhua, Taiwan, in 1956, Wu Tien- chang has lived in Keelung for most of his life. He received a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the Chinese Culture University ( 1980). His work has been shown internationally, including at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum ( 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009, 1990, 1987); the Kaoh- siung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung ( 2011, 2010); the Soho Photo Gallery, New York ( 2010); the Hong Kong Art Centre ( 2010); Eslite Gallery, Taipei ( 2010); Art Beijing, China ( 2009); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei ( 2009); the National Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung ( 2009); the National Art Museum of China, Beijing ( 2009); the Taipei Cultural Center, New York ( 2008); and MOMA Contemporary, Fukuoka, Japan ( 1997).
Wu Tien- chang will not be the only Taiwanese artist to present his work in Venice as the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei ( MOCA Taipei) will also host a solo exhibition also included in “Collateral Events” of Yahon Chang (張耀煌) , titled “The Question of Beings” at the Institute Santa Maria della Pieta.
Wu Tien- chang is representing Taiwan in the 56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition.