The overarching theme of the 2013 Asian Art Biennial is Everyday Life. It calls for a “return to everyday life”, signaling a shift of attention from the turbulent changes of the global political-economic situations to the cultural politics of everyday life – how we live our everyday lives, how we confront our everyday situations, how we approach the relationships between the individual and the external environments, and so forth. The theme Everyday Life highlights the need for art practice to re-direct its focus on the basics of the everyday, exploring, in particular, how artists develop their individual artistic styles in their specific cultural contexts or in their practice of everyday life.
Recent years have seen a growing trend in Asian contemporary arts to either resort to the aesthetic language of everyday life in the efforts to reflect on the workings of the social mechanisms, or to explore the ways in which the everyday practice inadvertently challenges the underlying grand narrative of the scent of global capitalism. Asia has, in the past few decades, risen from a “historical relic” to a “location of everyday present-ness” – a battlefield of conflicting cultures and values where social power in all forms and forces of its manifestation interlock, and all relationships between the individual and the collection are constantly put to tests and experiments. Today’s Asia is wrestling with complex issues of globalization and local adjustment, and its cultural landscape, marked by diversity and heterogeneity, a dazzling surface created by layers of illusions and metaphors. It is particularly note-worthy that in the midst of the rise of a cultural phenomenon which brands itself as the “new Asian experience” of the 21st century, the realm of everyday reality, along with all the social issues that derive from it, has become the central stage on which all the different cultural perspectives and interpretations, which can be seen to reflect changes in the political, economic and social landscape of the region, are examined and contested. It is fair to suggest that the recent development of Asian contemporary arts in terms of expressive forms and styles have been shaped by everyday practices and defined by the artistic language that derive from everyday life.
“Living by the moment” is the most urgent cultural realities, and “making a living” an unavoidable must in contemporary Asian lives. The No. 1 concern for most people is to cope with everyday life – certainly including dealing with all the irregularities and uncertainties that everyday realities bring forth. As far as art practice and aesthetic experience is concerned, “returning to the everyday” should entail turning our aesthetic attention to the micro-changes in our everyday life, including, but not limited to changes in the production of knowledge, visual language, communal relations and social phenomenon, and so on.
Everyday Life: 2013 Asian Art Biennial looks into the cultural dynamics of Asian contemporary arts, with special emphasis on how artists develop new aesthetic vision and artistic language through critically reflecting on various aspects of everyday life. In this, the grand narrative of History gives way to individual styles, and the most ordinary aspect of everyday realities becomes the best mirror for reflecting one’s personal, cultural or ideological premises. In the midst of the winds of change, the realm of the everyday has now become the most important site of aesthetic as well as social intervention.
Everyday Life: 2013 Asian Art Biennial takes us back to the sites of cultural practices, inviting us to see with our naked eyes, to listen with our ears, to feel with our hearts, to express ourselves with our languages, and to make things happen with our actions. In short, it encourages us to take a serious view of our everyday realities here and now, to pay attention on our inner spirits and core values that always find themselves originating from the warmth of everyday life, and to further explore the cultural and aesthetic implications of the “everyday-ness” in contemporary Asian societies.
EVERYDAY LIFE: 2013 Asian Art Biennial
Curator: Iris Shu-Ping Huang
Venue: National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
Address: No.2, Sec.1, Wu-Chuan W. Road, Taichung, Taiwan R.O.C.