The ‘stranger’ in the title of the exhibition is inspired by the ancient Japanese word marebito, which the Japanese folklorist Orikuchi Shinobu (1887–1953) described as supernatural beings that come from afar with gifts. These visitations usually occur during special occasions, and an encounter with such an otherworldly entity is always uncanny. However, if responded to in the appropriate way – with rituals and festivals, the marebito would bestow gifts of knowledge and wisdom.

We use the term “stranger” as an extension of the marebito, to refer to many “others”. Not only spirits and gods, but also shamans, foreign merchants, immigrants, minorities, colonists, smugglers, partisans, spies, traitors - the stranger is a medium, through which another world may be communicated. Through encounters with strangers, we might confront the outlines of ourselves, the borders of our society or even the boundaries of our species. This is the stranger’s gift. And some gifts are not easy to receive.


For the “mountain” and the “sea” of our title, we had “Zomia” and the “Sulu Sea” in mind. The American anthropologist James C. Scott (1936-) describes Zomia as a broad, elevated region stretching from the highlands of central Vietnam to northeastern India at 300 meters or more above sea level. Zomia’s high altitudes and rugged terrain form a natural barrier, making it difficult for the low-lying states surrounding it to govern. Thus, it has become a sanctuary for a variety of fugitives such as partisan fighters of forgotten wars, drug traffickers and ethnic minorities and other fugitives escaping the reach of the nation state. The Sulu Sea is a marginal sea between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, bordering Borneo to the south and the complex Philippine archipelago to the north. In addition to rich maritime trade, the Sulu Sea has also long been rife with slave raiding and piracy, and today has become a stage for regional terrorist organizations.

The highlands of Zomia and the low-lying Sulu Sea constitute a vertical axis, pulling at the foundations of flatland empires. To imagine how such a force field might look like, we created a diagram that gradually became something of a blueprint for this exhibition.

Another vertical axis in the diagram stretches from “Clouds” in the earth’s troposphere to “Minerals” beneath the earth’s surface, but we also had in mind, the digital cloud enabled by rare earth elements extracted from the ground. To view human histories against the horizon of clouds and minerals is to open these narratives up to the roles of non-human elements and non-human scales of time. Thinking of this intertwining of the human and non-human has led to one of our central questions while preparing for this exhibition: How can the unfinished project of Asian decolonization be rethought through these entanglements?

For now, we have tentatively named the space in the center of the diagram as “The Void.” Concepts of nothingness or emptiness recall the foundations of some of Asia’s great thought systems, but we have seen how their malleable nature has made them vulnerable to political (mis)appropriation. Today, at a time of great geopolitical shifts, incessant technological revolutions and an ecological crisis on a planetary scale, we seem to be entering a void of a different kind, where existing ethical and political coordinates no longer seem to guide us. At moments like this, it might be useful to recall how in certain Asian thought systems, the Void is not only regarded as a lack or an absence, but also a space of emergent possibilities. Which brings about the next question: How can we think creatively of the Void, and in the Void?

The diagram is neither a theoretical model nor a storyline. It is a tool we made in order that we can make a stage to be inhabited, and activated by the works, thoughts and presences of artists, thinkers and collaborators. This exhibition unfolds in four interconnected chapters. On the ground floor, the first (Gallery 102) and second (Gallery 103 to 108) chapters bring together artworks that embody the complex entanglement of human histories with stories of mountains and seas, clouds and minerals. On the second floor, the third chapter (Gallery 202) features a cast of human subjects propelled by immense, often non-human, forces to positions beyond the pale of national identities, and the forth chapter (Gallery 203 to 205) is dedicated to visions of human and material transformations. Woven across the four chapters are four “Footnotes”, a gathering of notes and thoughts that not only provide possible contexts and subtexts for the artworks, but also suggest interesting detours, or offer little openings to other lines of thought.

If we are unable to provide answers for the many pressing questions Asia is facing now, we hope that we are able to reframe some of these questions, to widen the outline of interpretation with new chains of relations, and thus expand the possibilities of response.

Text by HSU Chia-Wei and HO Tzu-Nyen



Chia-Wei Hsu


Graduated from Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains, France, Hsu Chia-Wei regards the images production process itself as a real action in the practice of art, developing an alternative relationship among people, material and place. Hsu has had solo exhibitions at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2018), Hong-Gah Museum, Taipei, Taiwan (2016) and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2015). He has participated in exhibitions at Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2019), Biennials at Shanghai, Gwangju, Busan and Sydney (2018), 2 or 3 Tigers at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany (2017), Taipei Biennale, Taipei, Taiwan (2016), HUGO BOSS Asia Art at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China (2013) and The 55th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezi at Palazzo Ducale, Venice, Italy (2013). He is also the curator of Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition at Hong-Gah Museum, Taipei, Taiwan (2018) and ThaiTai: A Measure of Understanding at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Bangkok, Thailand (2012).


Ho Tzu Nyen


Ho Tzu Nyen makes films, installations and theatrical performances that often begin as engagements with historical and philosophical texts and artifacts. His recent works are populated by metamorphic figures such as the weretiger (One or Several Tigers, 2017), the triple agent (The Nameless, 2015), the traitor (The Mysterious Lai Teck, 2018) under the rubric of The Critical Dictionary of Southeast, an ongoing umbrella project which uses the fuzzy outlines of the heterogeneous and contradictory region as a generator of narratives. His solo exhibitions include: Kunstverein in Hamburg (2018), Ming Contemporary Art Museum (Shanghai, 2018), Guggenheim Bilbao (2015), DAAD Galerie (2015), Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012). He represented the Singapore Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). And recent group exhibitions include the 12th Gwangju Biennale (2018); 2 or 3 Tigers at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2017); the 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014); the 2nd Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014). His theatrical works have been presented at The Kampnagel, Hamburg (2018); TPAM (2018); Asian Arts Theatre, Gwangju (2015); the Kunsten Festival des Arts (2018). His films have been presented at the Berlin Film Festival; Sundance Film Festival; Cannes Film Festival; Venice Film Festival; Locarno Film Festival and Rotterdam.


王思順 WANG Sishun 黃思農 Snow Huang 朴贊景 Park Chan-Kyong 李禹煥 LEE Ufan 李禹煥 LEE Ufan 劉窗 LIU Chuang 薩望翁.雍維 Sawangwongse YAWNGHWE 朋琵萊.明瑪萊&紀拉德.明瑪萊(JIANDYIN) JIANDYIN (Jiradej MEEMALAI and Pornpilai MEEMALAI ) 寇拉克里.阿讓諾度才 & 亞歷克斯.格沃伊奇(與男孩子) Korakrit ARUNANONDCHAI & Alex GVOJIC (with boychild) 澤.舂 Tcheu SIONG 羅斯里胥安姆.伊斯梅爾(伊謝) Roslisham ISMAIL (a.k.a ISE) 邱承宏 CHIU Chen-Hung 黃漢明 Ming WONG 林育榮 Charles LIM 于一蘭 YEE I-Lann 田村友一郎 Yuichiro TAMURA 打開–當代藝術工作站 Lifepatch Open Contemporary Art Center (OCAC) Lifepatch 郭鳳怡 Guo Fengyi 武基爾.蘇亞迪(Senyawa) Wukir Suryadi(Senyawa) 鐵木爾.斯琴 Timur SI-QIN 丁昶文 TING Chaong-Wen footnote102 footnote105

李禹煥 LEE Ufan 夏爾芭.古普塔 Shilpa GUPTA 王虹凱 WANG Hong-Kai 渡邊麻耶 Maya WATANABE 朴贊景 Park Chan-Kyong 安塔日沙 Antariksa 祖列伊哈.喬杜里 Zuleikha CHAUDHARI 何銳安 HO Rui An 劉玗 LIU Yu 江凱群 CHIANG Kai-Chun 希瓦.K Hiwa K 吉拉德.拉特曼 Gilad RATMAN footnote202 footnote205


2019 / 10 / 20 Sign Language Guided Tour

Time: 2019/10/20 (Sun.) 14:30-16:00
Meeting Point: Lobby, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

2019 / 11 / 02 Guided Tour : History from non-human perspective

2019/11/02 (Sat.) 14:30-16:00
Speaker: Hsu Chia-Wei
Meeting point: Lobby, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

2019 / 11 / 08 Artists in Residence — Nephrite collage studio

Time: 2019/11/08 (Fri.)- 11/10 (Sun.) 13:00-17:00
Venue: Court Yard, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

2019 / 11 / 09 Assemblage from beyond the Moutain and the Sea — 2019 Asian Art Biennial Teacher’s Workshop

Time: 2019/11/09 (Sat.)
Venue: Chun Shui Tang, National Taiwan Musem of Fine Arts

2019 / 11 / 30 Flavors from beyond the Mountain and the Sea — the Cross-culture Experiencing Workshop of Plant-unpuzzling

Time: 2019/11/30 (Sat.), 12/01 (Sun.) 13:00-17:00
Venue: Children’s Picture Book Area, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

2019 / 11 / 30 Forum 1 : Outside The Textual

Time: 2019/11/30 (Sat.) 14:00-15:30
Speakers: Lin Yi-Hsiu, Snow Huang, Hsu Chia-Wei

Forum 2: Strangers-The In-Between World of Southeast Asian Culture and Contemporary Art

Time: 2019/12/08 (Sun.) 14:00-15:30
Speaker: Nobuo Takamori
Venue: Auditorium, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

2019 / 12 / 21 2019 Asian Art Forum

Time:2019/12/21 (Sat.) 10:00-17:20
Venue: Auditorium, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

2019 / 10 / 08 Special Events by OCAC x Lifepatch

Venue: Gallery Street, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

1 Awas cepat rusak- Lifepatch x OCAC

Time: 2019/10/08 Tue. 15:00-17:00
* Organized by Absolute Arts Group. In collaboration with Visual Arts Critic Project, NCAF
* Registration is not required.

2 Extend the Hand of the Deities —Traditional Indonesian Jamu Therapy and Molecular Gastronomy

Session 1: Traditional Indonesian Jamu Therapy and Its Various Flavors
Time: 2019/10/09 (Wed.), 14:00-17:00

Session 2: The Jamu Experiment of Recombination and Reconstruction
Time: 2019/10/10 (Thu.), 14:00-17:00
* Online registration is required. Please check the official website for more deatils.

3 Step Into Body Altitude

Special Session - 2019/10/04 & 05, 15:00-17:00
Weekend Session - 13:30-17:30,
2019/10/27, 11/02 & 24, 12/01,
2020/01/05 & 26, 02/02
* Registration is not required.

4 Extend the Hand of the Deities: Oplos Bar - Experimental Spirit Drink

Time - 2019/10/04 (Fri.), 15:30-16:30
2019/10/05 (Sat.), 19:00-20:00
* Registration is not required.

Please check the NTMoFA website for latest event updates.



Lobby, Gallery Street, Gallery 102-108, Gallery 202-205, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

Open Hours
Tuesday to Friday, Sunday 10:00~18:00
Saturday 10:00~20:00
Closed on Monday

Guided Tours
Guided tours start at 10:30 and 14:30 from Tuesday to Sunday.
Reserved guided tours are also available for groups of 15 or more people.
School/institutional tours available for 15 or more persons; please see website or contact the Information Desk. Reservations can be made via the museum website 2 weeks in advance. The guided tour extension is 327.
Viewers can use Wi-Fi Phones provided by the NTMOFA to access the museum’s wireless digital audio tour service. To use the service, the user needs to fill an application form and show the ID card at the reception desk by the main entrance of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.

At the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, take the bus operated by Kingbus (Guoguang) or U bus (Tunglien) heading towards the Chao Ma Station in Taichung. After entering Taichung city center, get off at the SOGO Department Store. From there, take a taxi to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, located at the intersection of Meitsuen Road and Wuchuan West Road.

Taichung Harbor Exit – Taiwan Boulevard – Turn right on Meitsuen Road – Reach intersection at Wuchuan West Road – Museum Nantun Exit – Wuchuan West Road – Reach intersection at Meitsuen Road -Museum

High Speed Rail
Take the shuffle bus at High Speed Rail station to SOGO department or the intersection of Wuchuan West Road and Zhongming S. Rd., and then take taxi to the Museum. (at the intersection of Wuchuan West Road and Meitsuen Road)

Changhua City → Fushing Road → Wuchuan Road → Wuchuan West Road →Museum
Nantou City → Guoguang Road → Turn left on Linsen Road → Wuchuan Road → Wuchuan West Road → Museum
Fengyuan District, Taichung → Beituen Road → San Min Road → Wuchuan Road → Wuchuan West Road → Museum
Dajia District/Quingshui District/Shalu District, Taichung → Taichung Port Road → Turn right on Meitsuen Road → Museum.

TEL: +886-4-23723552


Asian Art Biennial was first organized by National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts In 2007. The mission of this Biennial intent to explores how a multiplicity of perspectives have come to inform our contemporary reality, and how such reality, characterized by high degrees of equivocality, has in turn enriched the cultural perspectives of Asia.

As the economic performance of Asian countries continues to attract global attention, issues related to cultural perspectives and aesthetic foundations of Asia have become key points of interest in the world of contemporary arts. Enriched by the diversity of cultural perspectives, Asian contemporary arts have flourished and expanded to meet the aesthetic needs of our time. Serving as an important platform of artistic exchange between Taiwan and the international arts community, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts has always been keen to facilitate intercultural dialogues through art. We hope that extensive communication and discussion on the subject will enhance our understanding of contemporary Asia and its dynamic artistic creativity.


The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA) was founded in 1988. It was temporarily closed for rebuilding in 1999 due to widespread devastation caused by the September 21st earthquake that year, and reopened in July 2004 with a brand new look. The NTMoFA is dedicated to the education and promotion of visual arts. It places great emphasis on collecting works by Taiwanese artists and exploring unique characteristics of modern and contemporary Taiwanese arts. Its aims are: to organize the most diverse range of themed visual art exhibitions, to foster long-term art exchanges with overseas institutions, to actively participate in major international events, to promote art education, and to provide the public with a pleasing and multi-faceted environment for viewing art.





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