The Convergence of Mountains, Sea and Outsiders─ 2019 Asian Art Biennial Artists Forum

2019 / 04 / 28

The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts has been holding the Asian Art Biennial since 2007, to observe, study and explore a vision of Asia and introduce the latest trends in Asian contemporary art. Through this exhibition and this event facilitating discussion and exchange among artists, we hope to build a platform for sharing and communication, allowing the multiplicity of views, beliefs, values, cultures and artistic expressions that exist in Asia to give birth to convergence and conversation, so that an intrinsically Asian creative perspective may gradually take shape.

The curatorial theme of the 2019 Asian Art Biennial is “The Strangers from Beyond the Mountain and the Sea.” It seeks to shatter the concept of delineation according to national territory, borders or geographical domains, and instead to expand from the outside cultures of “others” or “strangers” to a broader consideration of outside realms, as exemplified by “Zomia” and the “Sulu Sea.” In so doing, it hopes to re-examine our perceived boundaries and those of our society, or even our species, and thus assess the distinct historical experience of Asia and attempt a new interpretation of Asian culture.

In “The Convergence of Mountains, Sea and Outsiders– 2019 Asian Art Biennial Artist Forum,” curators, scholars and artists, both Taiwanese and international, converse on the artists’ creative ideas and the multidimensional cultural issues with which their artworks grapple, seeking an in-depth exploration of the problem consciousness and interpretive visions of Asian contemporary artists.

Content of the Artist Forum

Impacted by globalization yet brimming with multifarious forms of energy, Asian culture is resisting the pressure toward cultural homogeneity brought about by modern technology and information dissemination. In this forum, the artists of the 2019 Asian Art Biennial exchange viewpoints with both local and foreign curators. As the artists personally explain their visions and the curators share their perspectives, they elucidate the meaning of the artists’ works, giving rise to a wealth of insights.

The Artists Forum are divided into two major themes, to be considered separately on two days: “Biographies of Unaccountable Agents” and “Narratives of Geological Scales.” Each theme will be deliberated according to three sub-themes:

Theme 1, “Biographies of Unaccountable Agents,” explores the sub-themes “Oceans / Sculptures,” “Beyond the Political Spectrum” and “Japanese Colonialism / Japanese Occupation.” It uncovers the many intermediaries who live as outsiders within Asia, with their own ambiguous identities, and it reveals how the artists ruminate upon Asia’s distinctive historical circumstances and complex appearances through their own methods and interpretations, expressing worldviews that are rooted in Asia.

Theme 2, “Narratives of Geological Scales,” explores the sub-themes “Gemstones / Fluidity,” “Science Fiction / Madness” and “Inventing Rituals.” It considers how the artists address myth, politics and digital technology to initiate more connections, and even build a new order, through the mutation and transmutation of matter, changing the pre-existing cultural, economic, social and political ecosystems and implanting the internal issues of Asia within a new relational network.

During the two-day forum, the sessions will be arranged to respond to two major themes, as follows:

Theme 1: Biographies of Unaccountable Agents

This theme treats “agents” as a creative medium connecting different identities, ethnic groups, beliefs, and ideologies. It expresses one dimension of the Asian mode of work and directly confronts the contradictory, complex history of Asia. For example, Japan’s concept of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was not only a colonial military venture, but also a war of national liberation. Likewise, there are many problems that elude solution, such as the enigmatic identities of the left and right, nationalism or the framework of the Cold War. These agents are channels to the unknown, enabling an examination of our own boundaries, or those of our society, or even our species.

1. Oceans / Sculptures

In this session, artists use the fluidly dynamic nature of oceans as a medium to connect different times and spaces. Loosening the system, which is as rigid as “sculpture,” they then reorganize and reconstruct the text with certain critiques and interpretations, and then create a new text that differs from the original historical, political, and legal definitions.

2. Beyond the Political Spectrum

“Beyond the Political Spectrum” refers not only to a physical space that lies beyond governance, is self-contained and dynamic and transcends geographical domains, but also to the concept of multiple and mixed identities. The subjects and characters addressed by the artists in this exhibition are not readily defined by existing rules or established frameworks.

3. Japanese Colonialism / Japanese Occupation

Any statement regarding a historical event employs vocabulary involving questions of autonomy and identity. Here, the exhibition’s artists directly confront the contradictory, complex history of Asia, such as the Japanese concept of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere – was it a colonial military venture or a war of national liberation? – and the elusive identities of the left and right, nationalism, and the structure of the Cold War.

Theme 2: Narratives of Geological Scales

The curators of this exhibition contend that geological time – from the formation of mineral crystals, to the slow process of plate tectonics lifting mountain ranges over the course of millennia, to the constant circulation of soil and water and the passing of the seasons – exceeds the human sense of time. The existence of human beings is but an insignificant link in the chain. In particular, the development of today’s digital technology relies heavily on a variety of rare minerals to form the digital cloud. The non-human vision initiated by the cloud and minerals has resulted in tension among people, things and technology. This theme explores the practices of artists as they address myths, politics, and digital technology, in highlands or in mineral deposits, and shows how Asian artists introduce visions of outsiders and non-humans through the alteration and transformation of matter, extended to human projections and even states of madness. Releasing the bonds of existing interpretative frameworks, they embed the internal issues of Asia within a new relational network.

1. Gemstones / Fluidity

When history is viewed from the perspective of geological time, humankind seems like a blip on a radar screen. In this session, artists reinterpret the narrative of history through the metamorphosis of matter, from the perspective of mineral and geological evolution.

2. Science Fiction / Madness

Are “science fiction” and “reality” two distinct worlds? And on what basis do we determine the boundary between “madness” and “normalcy”? And as modern science and technology has led to the plundering and destruction of the earth’s resources as a norm of behavior, what should people regard as “insane” and “normal”? In this session, artists observe human behavior and muse on the boundaries that separate us from the natural world.

3. Inventing Rituals

An invention is a unique, innovative concept, while a ritual represents the preservation of traditions and old processes and forms. An artist’s creative practice is like the invention of a new ritual, rethinking the old order by constructing a cognitive structure and value system shared in common by different cultures and ethnic groups.


Sat. October 5, 2019/ National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts Auditorium | Online Registration




Opening Ceremony:
LIN Chi-Ming (Director, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts)
HSU Chia-Wei (Curator, 2019 Asian Art Biennial)
HO Tzu-Nyen (Curator, 2019 Asian Art Biennial)




Session 1:Oceans / Sculptures

HO Tzu-Nyen (Curator, 2019 Asian Art Biennial)

CHIU Chen-Hung (Taiwan)
Yuichiro TAMURA (Japan)




Session 2:Beyond the Political Spectrum

Rikey TENN Bun-Ki (Independent Curator)

WANG Hong-Kai (Taiwan)
Zuleikha Chaudhari (India)




Session 3:Science Fiction / Madness

Patrick GYGER (Director, Le lieu unique, Center for Contemporary Culture in Nantes, France)

LIU Yu (Taiwan)
Timur Si-QIN (Germany)
Gilad RATMAN (Israel)


Sun. October 6, 2019/ National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts Auditorium | Online Registration






Session 4:Gemstones / Fluidity

HSU Chia-Wei (Curator, 2019 Asian Art Biennial)

CHIANG Kai-Chun (Taiwan)
Jiandyin (Thailand)
Wang Si-Shun (China)




Session 5:Japanese Colonialism / Japanese Occupation

GUO Jau-Lan (Associate Professor, Department of Fine Arts, Taipei National University of the Arts)

Antariksa (Indonesia)
TING Chaong-Wen (Taiwan)
HO Rui-An (Singapore)




Session 6:Inventing Rituals

Nobuo TAKAMORI (Independent Curator / Researcher, ARTWAVE Taiwan International Arts Network, National Culture & Arts Foundation)

Open Contemporary Art Center (Taiwan)
Lifepatch (Indonesia)
Senyawa (Indonesia)