'Therefore, X=X.' TENG CHAO-MING Solo Exhibition
“Therefore, X=X. Teng Chao-Ming Solo Exhibition
Project Fulfill Art Space is pleased to present Therefore, X=X., a solo exhibition of artist Teng Chao-Ming. One common theme of the presented four works, created from 2009 to 2014, is they are all transformation of seminal works previously created by different authors. Taipei People Drawing (2009), A Monument for the (Im)possibility of Figuring it Out (2012), To Sing or Not To Sing? (2014) and A Famili-ar Catastrophe (2014) are based on, respectively: Taipei People (a collection of fourteen short stories published in 1971 by writer Pai Hsien-yung),A Brighter Summer Day (a film released in 1991 by filmmaker Edward Yang), A Flower in the Rainy Night (a Taiwanese pop song written in 1934 by Teng Yu-Shien and Chou Tien-Wong), and Family Catastrophe (a novel published in 1973 by writer Wang Wenxing). Through researching the authors, content/structures, debates and influences of these works, the artist then transforms them into new pieces. In Teng's complex and conceptual practice, we see his interests and questions toward text, narratives, causality, histories and memories, and his capability of mobilizing different metaphors, visual languages, and conceptual systems to produce art that invites the audience to imagine and question together. Although not conceived as a series, these four works, when put together, construct a web for the audience to traverse and reflect on the changing socio-political environment, and the individual-collective consciousness of the Taiwanese society.
On approaching these text, Teng said, "The uneasy and awkward feeling I have toward narratives makes the encounters with them often times become battles. I give in when I believe in what a piece of narrative is trying to say, losing myself in it; I attack it when I see its strategies/tactics and spot its weakness, then try to tear down its argument. These battles continues as I keep reading materials I gathered about these original works, until I figure out a way to reach a temporary stability, a local equilibrium. That is the moment these new pieces take shape. My starting point and methods are not so much interpreting or criticizing the referenced work. I see these works as previous events, and as time passes happens the encounters, then new pieces/events emerged. Encounters with the audience will surely destabilize these works, and the challenges I face, is to make these new events diverse, reflective, and interesting. There will be, of course, cases when the audience meets my work, they see dead-ends, which are of equal interests to me."
Teng Chao-Ming was born and currently lives in Taipei, Taiwan. After graduating from the Media Arts and Science program from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007, he moved to and stayed in New York until late 2012, he then relocated to Taipei. Recent shows include Modern Monsters/Death and Life of Fiction, Taipei Biennial, Taipei, 2012, little water, Dojima Biennial, Osaka, 2013, The Romance of NG, TKG+ Gallery, Taipei, 2013, and Altering-Nativism: Sound Cultures in Post-War Taiwan, MoNTUE, Taipei, and Kaohsiung Fine Arts Museum, Kaohsiung, 2014 (touring show).
A Monument for the (Im)possibility of Figuring it Out (2012), commissioned by Taipei Biennial in 2012, discusses how we use concepts such as histories, memories, fictions, events, causation, systems, etc. to deal with the past. Taiwanese director Edward Yang dramatized a real murder happened in 1961 to make his seminal film A Brighter Summer Day (1991), and built it in the logic of how this murder is "inevitable" because of the socio-political environment. The artist further dramatizes Yang's fiction: monumentalize this murder by transforming the final killing scene into a life-size sculpture, as if this event represents the 60s of Taipei, while deconstruct the film's narrative to question the concept of monuments.
The main protagonist of To Sing or Not to Sing? (2014) is the song A Flower in the Rainy Night, which is over 80 years old. From its birth in 1934, the song has been able to mobilize people of all hierarchies and occupations, events, ideologies and has acquired the status of the Taiwanese folk song. TENG collects its histories and how the song was used in different contexts and edits the material into a chronological story. The artist then deconstructs it further into new texts and presents them as a stage to provide new space of imagination. The second component of this piece is a prelude of this song, played randomly both indoor and outdoor.
Taipei People Drawing (2009) transcribed Pai Hsien-Yung's most well-known novel Taipei People (1971), a collection of 14 short stories about people who fled from China to Taiwan following the war from 1949. These "Taipei People" physically live in Taipei but mentally live in the mainland China/the past, with a strong sense of loss, cursed, and inability. These stories are Pai's projection of the nostalgia toward the lost Chinese-ness from his own experience of diaspora. By copying the text onto the book, TENG tried to reduce a distance shared by many Taipei people, in time, space, emotion and identity. A custom-made "bookmark" etched with an arrow symbol comes from the image emerged constantly from the artist’s experience of reading the novel: a pointing device.
A Famili-ar Catastrophe (2014) references Taiwanese writer Wang Wen-Hsing's Family Catastrophe (1972), an iconic novel of Chinese literature modernism movement. Teng singles out the twelve "Father Missing" fliers that are used in the novel as the main narrative structure, and prints 10,000 copies of each, then stacks them in a custom-made glass container. This object symbolizes the responsibility, desire, the process of making sense of it, rejections, and any possible mental states and behaviors from the children, when a "father (figure)" disappears. The second component of this piece is a blue gradient that is often used for identity portraits.