The Seven Beds - Wu Tung-Lung Solo Exhibition
This is a story about the seven beds Wu Tung Lung had laid on during his stay in the Big Apple.
Selected in 2013 by the Ministry of Culture’s International Artist Residency Exchange Program, Wu Tung-lung became the artist-in-residence at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in Brooklyn, New York. Wu has previously taken part in other residency programs in Paris, France and Dufftown, Scotland, whereby his observations and experiences from the travels have turned into important resources for his creative endeavors. His latest solo exhibition, The Seven Beds, upon his return from New York, will be presented from March 22nd to April 27th at Project Fulfill Art Space in Taipei, with the exhibition composed of his latest works that have been transformed and extended from his personal experiences and delicate emotions garnered from his time in New York.
Wu describes Brooklyn, New York as “an area of new and old mixed with a lot immigrants; it is vitally energetic yet also restless with hidden dangers. An area where comfort and danger coexist, it is a place that is very real and also contains a bit of rough and violent energies.” The somewhat chaotic streets of Brooklyn project an uneasiness that is also imaginative and full of potential. The worn-out walls of those old warehouses, the mass graffiti of iconic New York style, the policemen stationed outside the subway exits at night, tattoo parlors, dimly lit bars, even the rubber smell emitting from the artificial tracks of its sports arena, and the medley of different colored hairs on the floor of the beauty salon, all of these intricate details have come to form this urban landscape that is dynamically and distinctively New York.
As I drag my luggage along the streets of Brooklyn,shuffling on the way to the next temporary lodgings, the colossal silhouette of a chair factory looms up ahead, dominating my vision. It is my last night in New York; the next day I fly home to Taipei. I slow my steps, taking in the scene on the streets around me. The aging warehouses that line the streets each present their individual personalities to the outside world: crumbling, flaking facades; some aligned in neat rows of red-brick; others fenced in behind meshes of coarse wire; and of course there are the quintessentially New Yorkcolored sprays of graffiti. I stop at an intersection, peering at the cement factory opposite me, ruminating on how I’d passed my days here.
I’d go to one of my favorite haunts, plant myself at the bar as usual, order a lumberjack stack and a cup of coffee. The waitress would ask me if today I’d like my pancakes slightly on the crispy side and I’d nod and smile my answer back at her. The fire hydrant at the corner on the sidewalk outside would be blossoming a spray of sunlit droplets,causing the local scamps no end of delight as they splashed about, cooling their bodies from the summer heat – the sunlight itself lending a comfortable feeling to everything it shines on, decelerating all life to a lazier passage of time.
During those days of shuttling back and forth across the chaotic streets of Brooklyn, it wasn’t so much a case of exploring new ground, as it was a gradualjourney of self-discovery. Leaving the subway station late at night there would often be cops stationed at the exits, their faces showcasing the true cosmopolitan mix of the district – Caucasian, Asian, African, Latino faces – all packing heat, but patrolling casually. The dim lighting on the corners further illuminatedby the glitteringlights of the tattoo parlors and clubs, projecting a kaleidoscope of color onto the surrounding surfaces, while small groups of young men and women dance rhythmically to the electronic beats – evenas night’s dark curtain falls the city becomes more vibrant, more dynamic.
There is a hair salon not far from my place, where huge mirrors hang alongside monochrome pictures on the wall, facing the patrons seated in red-wine colored chairs – all very tastefully furnished. Dazzling light from the chandeliers above reflects off dark-varnished hardwood floors below, highlighting various cracks in the surface that reveal strands of red, blonde and black all intertwined. Sitting back in the cracked old barber’s chair, which still retains its shine after years of abuse, you can watch the whole world walk by on the sidewalk outside.
Late afternoon after the rain, the iron bridge is reflected back on itself in a scattered jigsaw of little puddles gathered on the road below. As the train passes over, the calm surface is broken by ripples, pealing out from the center of the pools in time with the rattling of the subway cars, fading from the surface as the trains recede into the distance. Floodlights from the sports field adjacent just turned on light upthedashed white strips lining the running track; it is still possible to make out the chunky smell of rubber, making it seem as if the track has just been newly laid. As the ambient temperature slowly drops to cool, the first runners are joined by ever more athletes, all gasping as they move at their own pace and politely fall into their own rhythms – orderly in synch with, but at the same time insularly independent of, their fellow exercisers around them.
Brooklyn is a veritable enigma – a melting pot of the influences carried in by immigrants from abroad and held fast by bastions of local charm; a mixture of the latest trends alongside the remnants of old culture. Bursting with vitality and restlessness, there is an ever-present danger lurking below the surface. These seemingly paradoxical ingredients combine to create a district that is both the diamond and the rough, andintertwined with these violent energies,an abundant life force wells up in the midst of all the tension, making each move across the district a unique and revitalizing experience. Forever etched on my mind are the memories of the sleepless nights tossing and turning in the raucousrooms; lying motionless amidst the stench of musty pillows and yellowing sheets on sunken mattresses; and the kneecapped sofas squeezed into the wooden mezzanine loft bedrooms. Seven Bedswas for me, both an ultimate real-life fantasy,but at the same time an experience as though lived in a vacuum of nothingness.
> WU Tung-Lung 吳東龍