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Taiwan presents 'Everyday War' exhibition at Venice Biennale

04/20/2024 07:08 PM
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From left to right: Taipei Fine Arts Museum Director Wang Chun-chieh, Deputy Minister of Culture Lee Ching-hwi, video artist Yuan Goang-ming, exhibition planner Abby Chen, and Taiwan representative to Italy Y. C. Tsai pose together for a photo at the opening of Yuan's "Everyday War" art exhibition at the 60th Venice Biennale on Thursday. CNA photo April 18, 2024
From left to right: Taipei Fine Arts Museum Director Wang Chun-chieh, Deputy Minister of Culture Lee Ching-hwi, video artist Yuan Goang-ming, exhibition planner Abby Chen, and Taiwan representative to Italy Y. C. Tsai pose together for a photo at the opening of Yuan's "Everyday War" art exhibition at the 60th Venice Biennale on Thursday. CNA photo April 18, 2024

Venice, April 20 (CNA) Taiwan has a presence at the 60th Venice Biennale, which opened on Saturday, with the exhibition "Everyday War" by video artist Yuan Goang-ming (袁廣鳴) that on the surface, at least, appears tied to world events.

In a recent interview with CNA, Yuan said many have asked him if he was intentionally addressing the conflicts currently raging around the world, including in Gaza, but he said it was a coincidence, having written his "Everyday War" exhibit plan in 2019.

"We certainly face real war threats, but I think this kind of 'war' also exists in daily life, such as income inequality and natural disasters, putting us in a constant state of war," he said.

Video artist Yuan Goang-ming pose in front of his "Everyday War" art exhibition at the 60th Venice Biennale on Thursday. CNA photo April 18, 2024
Video artist Yuan Goang-ming pose in front of his "Everyday War" art exhibition at the 60th Venice Biennale on Thursday. CNA photo April 18, 2024

Arguing that minor wars exist in daily life, Yuan traced the theme back to his 2014 solo exhibition "An Uncanny Tomorrow," which highlights society's prevailing anxiety by filming families and their living environments.

"At the time, although I did not mention war; it was all about the threats we encounter daily. From then on, I started thinking about the kind of crises that could occur in ordinary times," Yuan said.

Though Yuan tried to separate his exhibit from current events, the subject of war has been on the minds of people at the Venice Biennale after the artist representing Israel there said she will halt her exhibit until a ceasefire agreement in Gaza is reached.

Still, Yuan's display has the trappings one might expect from art chronicling war. He sets the scene in ordinary-looking living spaces but breaks the original calm and stability with sudden sounds of explosions.

As visitors walk into the exhibit area, they can also hear multiple interwoven sounds of Yuan's video works such as "Everyday Maneuver," "Everyday War," sirens, explosions and national anthem music.

"Yuan Goang-Ming: Everyday War" exhibit features a video segment at the 60th Venice Biennale Taiwan Pavilion in the Palazzo delle Prigioni in Venice, Italy. CNA photo April 20, 2024
"Yuan Goang-Ming: Everyday War" exhibit features a video segment at the 60th Venice Biennale Taiwan Pavilion in the Palazzo delle Prigioni in Venice, Italy. CNA photo April 20, 2024

Yuan said, however, that "my works are actually about Taiwan. I'm not presenting what Taiwan is through storytelling, but rather trying to present Taiwan's situation."

"Whether it's politics, life in general, or daily life, those are the things that my works encompass."

Wang Chun-chieh (王俊傑), director of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, echoed Yuan's statement by saying that the theme of this year's Venice Biennale is "Foreigners Everywhere," which delves into the identity confusion experienced by "outsiders and foreigners."

He added that Yuan often portrays doubt and unease within seemingly idyllic worlds through his artworks, which hint at human experiences amid tumultuous life situations.

Yuan is representing Taiwan at the Venice Biennale for the second time. He previously participated in 2003 alongside artists Li Xiao-jing (李小鏡), Lee Ming-wei (李明維) and Cheng Shu-lea (鄭淑麗) in an exhibit curated by artist Lin Shu-min (林書民).

His current exhibit was curated by Abby Chen (陳暢) from the United States, who collaborated on it with the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

The 60th Venice Biennale Taiwan Pavilion "Yuan Goang-Ming: Everyday War" exhibit will be showing at the Palazzo delle Prigioni in Venice, Italy, until Nov. 24.

(By Wang Pao-er and Evelyn Yang)

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