2011. február 21., hétfő

Taiwan Calling

Well, now that we have seen both parts of the Taiwan Calling exhibition in both Műcsarnok and Ludwig Múzeum, I can put together a few thoughts about the whole thing and especially two pieces: Jao Chia-En's Proposals for 30 flags and coat of arms and Tsai Charwei's Fish project.
First of all, I have to say that I liked the exhibition in Műcsarnok a bit better than in Ludwig. I felt it was more easily digestable and closer to me. I wouldn't say that the exhibition in Ludwig was bad, the opposit, it was really good. There were several installations and paintings that I really really liked, however as a whole the Műcsarnok was better for me.

So, as I have said there were two pieces that really made me think, the Proposals and the Fish Project. Both of these installations deal with national identity and the problems it is surrounded by. I think that's not really surprising, as a Hungarian who was born not long before the régime change and who grew up and developed a national identity in the 90s I have to face the problems about national identity in Hungary almost every day. During the transition the countries in the Eastern Bloc had the chance to reify themselves and establish a new national identity that is free from all kinds of clichés pushed forward by nationalist or socialist propaganda. I don't know how other countries managed in that aspect, but in my humble opinion Hungary failed miserably. We cannot face the shady eras of our history and the political parties abuse this fact by tying their political identities to certain eras that they portray as a golden age, even though the golden age has never happened.
It seems to me that Taiwanese people face problems with their national identity too. Taiwan's relationship with China and the western world makes it a bridge between capitalism and communism, democracy and dictatorship, western values and eastern values. China does not recognise Taiwan as a separate country and still pursues the one China policy that wants to annex Taiwan to China. Most people on taiwan reject that idea, albeit they are Chinese themselves and they speak the same language. Therefore Taiwanese people are torn between two worlds and several identities: western - eastern, Chinese - Taiwanese etc. The two pieces that I'm talking about try to reflect on these issues. I loved the flag and coat of arms proposals, people usually don't really think about their national flags, it's been chosen for them and it stays the same for centuries in most cases, flags and coat of arms usually only change during revolutions or régime changes. However, we have to see that a national flag represents an identity frozen in time, for example the Hungarian red, white and green flag came about in the 16th century and it stayed ever since. I'm not arguing that this is a problem, but I love the idea that we can come up with different flag ideas that reflect on certain periods in our history, or certain important historical events. It reminded me of the dire need of my country to face its history and reify its national identity in a way that is not selfdistructive or tears apart the country.

The fish project talked to me on a similar level. In the video the artist took a fish painted 'one China policy' on its side and then she released it back to the sea to swim away. This reminded me of the never-ending debate about Great-Hungary and the peace treaty in Trianon. I think, just like Fish Project represents beautifully how
Chinese people should let the one China policy go, slowly and organically; Hungarian people should let the idea of revision go slowly and organically. Since I found these similarities striking between Hungary and Taiwan these two pieces talked to me very strongly about the issues of identity and historically rooted grudges.
And this is really why I liked the whole exhibition a lot. Many other videos and installations dealt with identity problems which I felt close to the problems that we have in Hungary. Altogether the exhibition was a very nice experience and I am genuinly glad that I didn't miss the Proposals and the Fish Project.

1 megjegyzés:

  1. I also like the Fish installation a lot. Not the fish itself, though, but the sea view, and sounds, and sound, and snags! And the play with writing. I don't see it in a political context (probably I should have read the annotations more attentively), but it made me think of writing as an attempt to grasp reality alive and thus kill it. Anyway, sand and sea were beautiful.