Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Invisible City


Two person exhibition: Video and photographic exhibition looking at the effects of globalization in Taiwan.
Guest curator: Amy Cheng Huei-Hua


Centre A is pleased to present its largest international exhibition to date, featuring two of Taiwan’s leading contemporary artists, Chen Chieh-Jen and Yuan Goang-Ming.

Chen Chieh-Jen is showing a series of large format photographs, called Twelve Karmas Under the City. The images are of naked bodies violently sprawled in the underground pedestrian passageways of Taipei, spaces that are most often occupied by daily commuters. These disturbing pictures raise a number of questions. What is taking place here? Is it disease, war, a terrorist attack or some strange cyborg mutation? Like a scene from Dante’s Inferno, this portrayal of sublime human suffering also offers clues to redemption. Only after you know the truth of Karma, accepting your fate, are your granted the free will to do something about it.

Chen Chieh-Jen was born in Taiwan in 1960 and first came to international prominence with work using computer technology to alter historical photographs of criminal executions. He has taken part in the Taipei Biennial, the Sao Paulo Biennial, the Venice Biennale, Biennale de Lyon and the Kwangju Biennale.

Yuan Goang-Ming presents a work called City Disqualified. It consists of a large format, high resolution, digital image depicting a dense urban landscape. Seen from a high angle, wide boulevards, lights, wires and street signs, a forest of advertising and giant video billboards mark this as an important intersection in a large Asian city. Normally this scene would be bustling with people and cars but somehow they all seem to have vanished. The artist took over a hundred photographs of this place during a one month period and, using a computer, combined them in such a way that all the people and cars were erased. Although it looks perfectly coherent, the resulting image is in fact a composite of hundreds of fragments.

Yuan Goang-Ming uses a variety of techniques to display this picture. As part of this presentation, an enormous version of the image file is stored on a computer hard drive and projected a little at a time onto a screen. Entering a darkened room, the viewer sees what looks like a surveillance camera, zoomed in close and scanning slowly across empty sidewalks and silent streets. A quasi abstract geometry of grey pavement pans by, interrupted only by painted road markings and street furniture. The people are gone. Time slows down. Space expands. The effect is elegaic.

Yuan Goang-Ming is a pioneer of video and digital art in Taiwan. Combining symbolism and technology, his work eloquently expresses the state of contemporary existence and explores the depths of human consciousness. In 2001, Yuan Goang-Ming took part in the exhibition Translated Acts held in Berlin and New York, as well as in 010101: Art in Technological Times, held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2002, he participated in the Taipei Biennial. His work from this exhibition will be featured in the 2003 Venice Biennale.

This is the curatorial debut of Amy Cheng Huei-Hua, a Vancouver based art critic and philosopher of art. She writes about Canadian and international art. Three of her articles relating to this exhibition will be featured in the upcoming issue of Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art. She has also written an essay for the exhibition catalogue.

This exhibition is made possible by grants from the National Culture and Arts Foundation R.O.C; the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office; the Canada Council for the Arts; Art and Collection Group Inc.; Yishu Magazine; and the generous support of DUOCOM Audiovisual.

Catalogue available: $10