Taipei Biennial 2018 “Life-support, Living, Survival System” announces co-curators

Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) has announced Mali Wu and Francesco Manacorda as co-curators for 2018 Biennial edition.

The 11th edition of the Taipei Biennial, titled “Life-support, Living, Survival System”, will open on 17 November 2018 and will focus on the interconnectivity of ecosystemic structures formed between humans and nature.

2018 Taipei Biennial Co-Curators, Mali Wu (left) and Francesco Manacorda (right). © Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

2018 Taipei Biennial Co-Curators, Mali Wu (left) and Francesco Manacorda (right). © Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

On 10 January 2018, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) announced the co-curators of the 11th edition of the Taipei Biennial, which will run from 17 November 2018 to 10 March 2019. Taiwanese artist, curator and lecturer Mali Wu and Italian curator, art writer and educator Francesco Manacorda will be co-curating the 2018 Biennial, bringing into focus “the interconnectivity of ecosystemic structures formed between humans and nature”, and aiming to “serve as a platform of social experimentation to generate new interdisciplinary possibilities for long-lasting, community-driven, bottom-up synergies”.

The Taipei Biennial has been held every two years since 1996 at TFAM, and after three consecutive years of single-curator strategy, TFAM has reinstated a two-curator structure, bringing into play a collaborative, curatorial endeavour between a Taiwanese curator and an international guest curator. After TFAM and the Taipei Biennial Committee deliberated on the 2018 theme of “Life-support, Living, Survival System”, they invited Mali Wu, Taiwanese artist, curator and lecturer at Graduate Institute of Interdisciplinary Art at National Kaohsiung Normal University, to elaborate on the curatorial concept. Upon recommendation by Wu, Liverpool-based Francesco Manacorda was invited to collaborate.

Park Chan-Kyong, 'Citizen’s Forest', 2016, installation view (detail) at Taipei Biennial 2016, TFAM. Photo and image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Park Chan-Kyong, ‘Citizen’s Forest’, 2016, installation view (detail) at Taipei Biennial 2016, TFAM. Photo and image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

The two curators of Taipei Biennial 2018

A graduate of Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (the Arts Academy of the City of Düsseldorf) in Germany, as an artist Mali Wu focuses on what art can do in the public sphere. In the 1990s, she examined the state of social and political affairs from a feminist perspective. Throughout her career she has consistently dealt with ecological issues, approaching art as a bridge between culture and nature, and demonstrating the potential for contemporary art and the vital personal energy of an artist. Among her most important projects of community-based public art that looked at the environment are Restore Our Rivers and Mountains – Along the Keelung River, a collaboration with a community college attempting to stimulate discussion about rivers and current environmental issues, and Art as Environment: A Cultural Action at the Plum Tree Creek, a collaborative project with Bamboo Curtain Studio, which re-examined urban ecology and development through an ignored creek.

With an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, Francesco Manacorda is an experienced art writer, having published articles in publications such as Artforum, Flash Art, Frieze, Kaleidoscope and ArtReview, among others. Between 2007 and 2009 he served as curator at the Barbican Art Gallery, he was Director of Artissima, the international fair of contemporary art in Turin, from February 2010 to March 2012, and from 2012 to 2017 he was Artistic Director of Tate Liverpool. He curated the Slovenian Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale and in 2009 the New Zealand Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, while in 2013 he was a member of the International Jury for the 55th Venice Biennale. In 2016 he co-curated the Liverpool Biennial. He was visiting lecturer in Exhibition history and Critical theory at the Curating Contemporary Art Department of the Royal College of Art, London from 2006 to 2011. He is currently Artistic Director of the V-A-C Foundation and visiting professor at LJMU School of Art and Design in Liverpool.

Sang-hwa Park, 'Mudeung Fantasia 2', 2017, Video Installation, Single Channel Video Installation with handmade mesh screen. Installation view at "An Art Arena For Korean and Taiwanese Contemporary Art", Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 2017. Image courtesy Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

Sang-hwa Park, ‘Mudeung Fantasia 2’, 2017, Video Installation, Single Channel Video Installation with handmade mesh screen. Installation view at “An Art Arena For Korean and Taiwanese Contemporary Art”, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 2017. Image courtesy Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

“Life-support, Living, Survival System”: looking cross-disciplinarily at humanity and nature

The two curators hold mutual curatorial and academic interests, and jointly proposed the concept of “eco-systemic interdependency”. The Biennial will consider the inseparability of humans and environment, while looking at the gradual deterioration of the natural ecosystem, a phenomen that is pushing every living being to face the fragility of nature and the consequences of human activity. As explained in the press release,

With the accelerating development of human civilization, frequent, intense interactions between people and nature are increasingly blurring the once clear boundaries between the two. As these cognitive boundaries shift, “nature” acutely needs redefinition, and other concepts related to nature are also being re-examined and reinterpreted. The Taipei Biennial 2018 explores the concept of “ecosystem” in a broader context than merely nature or the biological environment, encompassing cultural, economic and sociological factors as well.

The Taipei Biennial 2018 will employ cross-disciplinary contributions and a vision to initiate a new conversation in the local socio-cultural context. Wu says about the exhibition:

We should focus on life itself and respond collectively to living. I hope this exhibition can be an experimental laboratory that incubates collaborations among talents from different fields.

Eric Chen and Rain Wu, 'Collectivism', 2016, installation view (detail) at Taipei Biennial 2016, TFAM. Photo and image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Eric Chen and Rain Wu, ‘Collectivism’, 2016, installation view (detail) at Taipei Biennial 2016, TFAM. Photo and image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

The 2016 Taipei Biennial was a “special conversation about genealogy and history”, which lay the foundation for the upcoming edition focusing on issues of environment and survival. Ping Lin, Director of Taipei Fine Arts Museum, is quoted in the press release as saying about the 11th Taipei Biennial:

The Taipei Biennial 2018 will rethink the role of humanity, question the meaning of art, and extend the focal point to the resilience of our fragile world, as well as strategic mechanisms and technological methods, exploring the ways humankind can survive in the current age. Much like the series of projects at Plum Tree Creek that Mali Wu has led in the past, we hope to build an interface and a mechanism for reflection, to achieve intercommunication between the arts and the natural environment, using our land as a specimen to produce examples of the interdependence between nature and the humanities and symbiosis between human activity and the natural environment. With Mr. Francesco Manacorda’s international connections and experience, both theoretical and practical, I am very excited to see how the Taipei Biennial can be a new kind of driving force for community-driven intercultural collaboration.

 C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

2021

Related Topics: biennials, curatorial practice, curators, news, art and the environment, art events in Taiwan

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar for more news about upcoming biennales in Asia and beyond

Comments are closed.