Remembrance & Marginalization: the TNUA Special Exhibition
Taking “remembrance and marginalization” as the main theme, this special exhibition features the history of Green Island as an exile colony for political prisoners of Taiwan during the martial law period. It responds to the island’s entangled “mainstream-marginal” relations intersected by Taiwan’s authoritarian past and this outlying island’s geographical location. More specific, this exhibition aims to reverse the stereotypical thinking, redraw ideational coordinates, and reconsider how the Taiwanese society can confront/remember this piece of history, thereby addressing the issues concerning contemporary democracy.
“White Discipline” in forms of media installations responds to the human condition under totalitarian discipline from a Macro-perspective. By virtue of the dynamic contrast between light and darkness as well as the rigid mechanism of repetition and abrasion, this work tries not only to visualize and interpret the survival crisis of individuals’ uniqueness under the manipulation of the overwhelming power system, but also to explore the possibility for people to break free from the monitored and disciplined obedience during the White Terror.
Following similar concerns, “-ed” focus on the most marginal resistance under the oppressive system—the self-referential thoughts crossing the White Terror victims’ minds when they were incarcerated alone. By inserting the affix “-ed” to the verbs in victims’ home letters, it changes their sentences into past passive tense, which in turn makes their resignation visible. The work converts those documents into voice files placed inside a cloud-shaped art installation wrapped with layers of wire netting, urging the visitors to listen. By so doing, those helplessly muted marginal voices and thus unheard by the mainstream finally become appearing as well as accuse of the still hidden system of the state-perpetration.
Appropriating and deconstructing the classic left-wing woodcut prints, “The Secondary Rainbow in the South” juxtaposes contemporary images in the form of reflection, which enables the marginalized people who share similar experiences of violence and turbulence to travel through space-time, transcend ideological confines, and witness one another’s sufferings. Taking the covers and traces of the classic works but replacing with the contemporary neglected images of figures with similar gestures, this print work attempts to not only question the limitations of seeing art works as representation or testimony to historical events but also invite visitors to reflect on the old visionary wish that all people from Taiwan and China may walk on the southern rainbow towards each other proposed by the artists of the classic left-wing woodcut prints.
“Meeting the freshmen at Green Island” engages in the creation of picture books based on Green Island residents’ oral testimonies about the political prisoners at the island in the past. In so doing, it transforms usual bystanders into the subjects of the narrative. It is a picture book creation project involving residents’ oral testimonies, field survey, interactive workshop design, and fictional heartwarming short stories from children’s perspectives, which attempts to conjure up those magic memories of the children about this exile colony in the pact and to reimagine the space of a political prison at present.
Harnessing the power of an immersive theatrical installation, “D-i-n-g．Watch!” places the spectators in the epochal absurdity of total surveillance and offers them a glimpse of the diverse features and spirits of the political dissidents during the White Terror. By presenting a broad political spectrum of the political dissidents and their heart-touching stories, this work allows the spectators to go beyond stereotype mainstream narratives of political victims and to understand and witness their real ideals, struggles, limited agency, and the fearless love under the oppressive time.
The marginality is always defined by the mainstream hegemony. The choice of remembering and telling stories of the marginality counts as a form of resistance against the hegemonic “national memories.” Accordingly, the purpose of redrawing ideational coordinates is not so much to replace one narrative with another as to shatter the unity of identity narratives. Meanwhile, it questions/cogitates on the mainstream narrative consolidated by each representation, insofar as to maintain the critical power of arts. Covering a broad spectrum and recounting heart-touching stories of people, this exhibition shines a spotlight on the genuine emotions, aspirations and struggles of sui generis individuals as the victims of the totalitarian regime, thereby igniting an imagination beyond the mainstream narrative constructed by the state apparatus, a more fertile, vivid and contemporary imagination about the memories of Green Island as an exile colony for political dissidents.