Dwelling: YUAN Goang-Ming Solo Exhibition
18 September - 17 October 2015
Hanart TZ Gallery
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Curatorial Statement

On the Border between a Home and a Ruin:

Yuan Goang-Ming’s Dwelling

Valerie C. Doran

Hanart TZ Gallery is honoured to present Dwelling, Yuan Goang-Ming’s first major solo exhibition in Hong Kong. Yuan Goang-Ming is recognized as a pioneer of Taiwan’s video art, and is one of the most influential and internationally renowned artists in the field of new-media art today. A powerful, total environment of video, photography and installation, Dwelling continues Yuan’s investigation of the conceptual and phenomenological nuances of our notions of ‘home’, ‘dwelling’ and ‘ruins’, but extends the frame of inquiry to the question of overall human survival, in both a political and an environmental sense. Through his unique interpolation of technology and a darkly poetic visual language, Yuan reveals the presence (or threat) of what he calls the ‘uncanny’ within our everyday lives—that sense of the unknown that hovers on the edge of conscious awareness, and that often is activated by an impending sense of dislocation, displacement or loss.

In many of his works, Yuan creates scenarios where the unthinkable invades the mundane world. In the titular video and photographic installation Dwelling, Yuan captures the sudden explosion of an IKEA-like, middle-class living room that is inexplicably underwater, while in the installation Prophecy, a dinner table carefully set with china and glass periodically emits an ear-splitting clanking sound and shakes as though impelled by an earthquake. Though the human figure is absent from these works, the human presence is viscerally embodied in the objects that inhabit these most ordinary dwelling spaces.

Prophecy_3 Prophecy_2

《預言》     Prophecy

2014     動力裝置     Kinetic Installation     版數3     Edition of 3     182 x 85 x 75 cm

The dichotomy of presence and absence seen here is a key element in Yuan’s works. In some cases he films real-life events and then erases the human figures completely from certain scenes, leaving behind only the structures and objects that delineated their world. In two key works in the show, Yuan employs a linear cable cam to film both indoor and outdoor public environments in Taiwan, creating the eerie effect of a disembodied, floating presence bearing witness to the contradictions and uncertainties of the worlds we inhabit. In The 561st Hour of Occupation, Yuan Goang-Ming presents us with a bird’s-eye view of the chaotic interior of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan chambers during the recent student occupations, but in some scenes the students themselves have been erased: only scattered items of food, furniture, clothing, hand-made posters and various kinds of detritus bear witness to their ‘invasion’. In Landscape of Energy, the camera glides above a crowded beach where families sun themselves in the shadow of a nuclear power plant—eloquently speaking to another kind of ‘uncanny’ presence. This discomfiting scene is juxtaposed with images of other sites of human engagement that have been completely abandoned: An unfinished housing project, an empty school, a broken-down carousel from an amusement park overgrown by weeds. In a chilling companion photograph from the Landscape of Energy series, we see the beach scene again, with the folding chairs and colourful umbrellas still decorating the sand—but now the people have all disappeared, leaving everything behind. And we are left with the ominous question: What has happened here?


《微笑的小木馬》(錄像截圖)     Smiling Rocking Horse (video snapshot)

2011     錄像裝置     Video Installation     版數5 + 2 AP     Edition of 5 + 2 AP     0’46”

With their eerily beautiful framing and subtexts of presence, absence and loss, Yuan Goang-Ming’s works set out to visibly shake us up, to confront us with the possibility of losing everything. Yet at the same time, Yuan speaks more with the voice of a poet, than of a prophet. Despite their unnerving narratives, Yuan’s visions leave us with a sense of awakening, and even of empowerment: He reminds us that the human narrative is still unfolding and that, even now, on the borders of the uncanny, we have the creative power to envision different ways of inhabiting our world, of dwelling in a more humane future. In other words, Yuan creates the metaphors that might unexpectedly lead us home.

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