Between black and white, how should reconciliation and coexistence be discussed? A Bustling Station and An Asian Ethnic Group on the Move Indonesian artist duo Irwan Ahmett & Tita Salin’s New Project Launch

2015 / 09 / 13

The 5th Asian Art Biennial is set to officially open at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA) on September 19th. This year’s theme is Artist Making Movement, curated by NTMoFA curator Iris Shu-Ping Huang. The theme is related to the observations and standpoints garnered in the past two years from the phenomena and creative trends observed in Asia’s contemporary societies, reflecting on the tremendous social structural changes occurring in Asia in the midst of globalized political and economic developments. These changes are happening quite rapidly, as they directly impact our customary governing institutions, security models, and cultural outlooks. These various phenomena happening in Asia signify that contemporary Asian cultures are in the midst of different institutional considerations and reforms, seeking feasible order and relations for the future and attempting to overturn how power is allocated in society. Set in this particular day and age, the objective of the theme Artist Making Movement is to use different art practices to discuss systems of contemporary survival and how the Self can be involved in social relationships, while also sparking possibilities for transformation through the organic medium between creative production and social institution. It is also noted that partaking in the construction of Asia’s current life history has become an important discourse for artists. 

Indonesian artist duo Irwan Ahmett & Tita Salin has created a new project for this biennial, which involves three months of social investigations, interviews with migrant workers, public space utilization, and interactions and contacts with workers and human right organizations. With a diversified research approach, efforts are placed in understanding the connections and existing conundrums between Southeast Asian migrant workers and the local society. Through an emotion-based perspective that includes humanitarian considerations, the project examines the sense of physical and mental imprisonment that both legal and illegal migrants are experiencing while working in a foreign land. These migrant workers are either drifting in a weak national legal system or left unprotected, and besides losing their legal rights, they have also lost a sense of security due to the conditions they are currently in. They are a group of people that are desired within Asia’s economic production chain, but they are also the first group to be discarded. These are people that have become international drifters in a new Asia that has emerged due to globalization. They have moved away from their preexisting hardship, but their struggles to survive have carried over to another location. For this artwork, artists Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salin have come into contact with many stories from working or imprisoned migrant workers and also from their families. The sea has taken them to a new land to embark on a new journey of survival, and tears have become the imprints of their realties. In addition to the artwork Salting the Sea, Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salin has also expanded this project that examines migrant workers’ situations in Taiwan to a public level. We have seen in the recent years on news outlets many reports on migrant workers, including how the Taipei Main Station’s public lobby is used, social incidents with run-away migrant workers, labor rights issues with overworked laborers, and topics on economic benefits. The artists will launch a space for public discourse with the project Agree/Disagree/Unsure, which will initiate a reevaluation on how problems in Asia are dealt with based on the realistic conditions that these public issues have impacted Taiwan’s economic and cultural position in Asia.

An artwork launch will be held by National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts Asian Art Biennial and Indonesian artist duo Irwan Ahmett & Tita Salin in the afternoon of September 13th at the Taipei Artist Village Recreation Room. This one-time only event will differ from conventional conferences, and invites members of the audience and the press to participate in this event of public discourse - Agree/Disagree/Unsure created by the artists based on migrant worker issues. This event is an onsite art-making process, an action-based performance, and also an incident, an open forum initiated by the artists. Through the public dialogue conducted with the event attendees, phenomena observed with migrant workers in Taiwan will be examined. The expected participants of the event will include artists, curators, social activists, migrant workers, policy implementers, scholars, students, and reporters. During this two-hour event, participants will openly engage in discussions and assessments on issues pertaining to migrant workers in Taiwan and also reflect on, discuss, or propose solutions for the social structures and mechanisms involved.    

The dialogue will begin with the Taipei Main Station lobby, a place of clearly defined black and white zones; however, as the borders of public space and the discourse for survival have grown increasingly more ambiguous, realistic problems are deriving from this sense of uncertainty and urgently need to be examined. Where is the living space for migrant workers in Taiwan? What position and problems is Taiwan facing in Asia? What is the intervening role taken on by art in Asia’s moving borders? National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and artists Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salin cordially invite you to join the discussion in the afternoon of September 13th. (The entire event and the discussions will be filmed by the artists, and later turned into a work of art to be presented at this year’s Artist Making Movement: 2015 Asian Art Biennial.)     

Exhibition: Artist Making Movement—2015 Asian Art Biennial

Exhibition Venue: National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

Exhibition Dates:September 19th ~ December 6th, 2015

Biennial Opening Reception: September 18th at National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

Artist Talks: September 19th, 2015

Asian Art and Curator’s Forum: September 20th, 2015

Media Liaisons:Emily Wang Tel:886-4-2372-3552 #133 

National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts:

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