Heavier Than Rocks: Retrospective Project of Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition
Time: 20th June – 3rd September 2023
Venue: Hsinchu City Art Gallery
Artists: TSENG Yen-yu and the Volunteers of Hsinchu City Cultural Affairs Bureau
、Hsin-Yen WEI and the local residents in Hsinchu、Ka-hee JEONG、Ting-Ting CHENG、Chen-yu CHEN、Chun-Qiang NIU、Pei-Hsuan WANG、I-Chun CHEN、Charwei TSAI
Hsinchu City Art Gallery is proud to present the exhibition Heavier Than Rocks: Retrospective Project of Taiwan International Video Art in collaboration with Hong-Gah Museum. It invites artists from the previous editions of the Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition (TIVA), organized by Hong-Gah Museum, to participate with the theme tailored specifically for Hsinchu City Art Gallery. It serves as a retrospective project for TIVA. Meanwhile, it offers a fresh interpretation from the perspective of Hsinchu City Art Gallery. Over the past decades, video arts, such as films, documentaries, and experimental videos, have been increasingly exhibited in art galleries, offering different aspects of environmental viewing and providing clues for contemplating issues. The exhibition at Hsinchu City Art Gallery remains TIVA’s characteristic of being socially engaged. It presents several works exploring different industries that contribute to the construction of urban life.
The exhibition title Heavier Than Rocks is derived from a poem titled To Weave a Kasa – A Letter to Mr. Okashin by poet Hsiu-hsi Chen, published in the 63rd issue of the magazine L in 1974. Hsiu-hsi Chen, born in Hsinchu in 1921, went through a language transition during her upbringing. Due to the change in political power, her language use had to change from Japanese to Mandarin when she did creative works. In the original poem, she passionately expresses her love for creation, stating that even a child who is learning language cannot give up writing poetry. Meanwhile, the poem reflects the sorrow of the colonized and hopes that people on this land can nurture a beautiful spirit among the chaotic period. Hsiu-hsi Chen’s works express her love for Taiwan’s land and her concerns for women’s social role, as well as her support and mentorship of the younger generation, which have greatly inspired the curator team.
The first part of the exhibition points on individuals who support the functioning of society within the context of different cultural backgrounds in urban settings.
Chun-Qiang Niu’s work Boardman captures the sign holders on the streets, mostly holding advertisements for luxury building project. The strong contrast between the extravagant names of these projects and the crude working environment of sign holders are highlighted. Pei-Hsuan Wang’s A Moonlight Flit and Chen-yu Chen’s The Fall illustrate the stories of migrant workers who leave their hometowns to strive for their family, and those who live in dormitories due to their shift work in factories and become disconnected from the society. These works reflect how capitalism of contemporary society eliminates spatial barriers to increase on labor efficiency and how it causes individuals to continuously fall and lose themselves. I-Chun Chen’s Little Black’s Whole Life in the Factory metaphorically represents how laborers lose their personal identity within the labor system through the image of a factory guard dog.
Ting-Ting Cheng’s Kinship / Making / Repetition captures a family who has engaged in producing lacquerware since the Japanese period. Through the concept of legacy, it explores the difference in expectations and identity construction between parents and children in changes of times and concepts. Charwei Tsai’s Hao Jie: Sitting the Month presents the peculiar profession of caregivers appearing when women are sitting the month, which is the postpartum recovery and newborn care customs among Ethnic Chinese.
The second part of the exhibition unfolds along the lines of memory and local life experiences. Ka-hee Jeong’s Grandmother/Heirloom records the brainwaves of artist’s grandmother with brainwave detector. Her elderly grandmother is suffering from memory loss, and she hopes that future technological developments will enable her to reinterpret the stories grandmother wanted to tell. Yen-yu Tseng’s Urban Doll Series: Volunteers of HCAG collaborates with volunteers from Hsinchu Cultural Affairs Bureau. Volunteers with diverse backgrounds share their life experiences and participate in the exhibition with dolls made from recycled clothes. Hsin-Yen Wei’s Walk with Me in Hsinchu invites local residents to have a walk with the artist, sharing anecdotes about the city. After that, the collected images of Hsinchu from residents will be presented and shared through guided tours during the exhibition. These new creative projects tailored to Hsinchu residents provide a local perspective, offering a glimpse into the lives of citizens.
In 2023, TIVA will be led by curators Zoe Chia-Jung Yeh and Shih-Yu Hsu, continuing the core spirits of previous TIVA exhibitions, which emphasized social concerns and responded to current affairs. Therefore, the narrative of the exhibition will start from the concept of “care.” After experiencing the impact of the pandemic for three years, not only does human society require restoration in mental and physical health, but also our perspectives towards the external social and natural environment must move away from a human-centric view and reconsider our relationship with the environment. The exhibition, Heavier Than Rocks, displayed at the Hsinchu Art Gallery, is also a part of the prelude activities of this year’s TIVA. In selecting the artworks, artists who have participated in previous TIVA exhibitions were invited, allowing them to showcase their works without limitations. In addition, the exhibition serves as an observation of the growth and development of the creators, along with the exhibition itself over the years.
Photo Courtesy of Hsinchu City Government Cultural Affairs Bureau.