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Revisiting the Past Century, Inciting Contemporary Resonance. C-LAB Presents Themed Exhibition, “City Flip-Flop”

2019/10/07

Following the 2018 exhibition, Re-Base: When Experiments Become Attitude, with qualitative changes evoked through cultural elements instilled via contemporary art at the site of the former Air Force Headquarters, director of Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-LAB) Lai Hsiang-Lin is once again leading the C-LAB team together with over 50 participating collectives in launching on October 5th the themed exhibition, City Flip-Flop, with the objective of thinking outside of the box and breaking any confinements that may have existed on the site. The exhibition consists of three sub-categories and seeks to take the audience on a journey through the past, the present, and the future, carrying out a series of observations and actions related to history, current social practices, and future development. The exhibition also serves as a preamble for the cultural experiments about to take place in the city.

The exhibition presents C-LAB as a simulated micro-city, showing shockwaves, dissolution, and regeneration through the giant wheel of time. With the year 2020 rapidly approaching, we revisit the 1920s, a critical period in Taiwan’s progress of modernization, and as we learn from the past and look to the future, we explore how to conduct cultural experiments in the city and for the experiments to evoke impact. City Flip-Flop presents the following three sub-categories, “Multiplex”, “Stained”, and “Circulation”, as departure points for observations and investigations. “Multiplex” reexamines the multi-impacts on culture brought forth by progressivism and growthism that are advocated by modern industrialized system and global capitalism, and explores the great impact on society and life prompted by technology. “Stained” reenacts marginal narratives hidden under social norms and rules, exploring the controls imposed by modern governance and order system on the body and the mind. “Circulation” engages in multidimensional exploration on social development, environmental awareness, and sustainable lifestyle, with the city’s evolution, transformation, and future development observed and envisioned.

Curated by Wu Dar-Kuen, “Multiplex” examines various modern day human activities, and through intricate observations and actions conducted by artists, the segment presents a series of contemporary urban landscapes. With three sections presented based on the perspectives of urban users, urban innovators, and urban planners, on view in this segment of the exhibition are the following 13 artists and collectives from Taiwan and abroad: Blast Theory, Torlarp Larpjaroensook, Vvzela Kook, Li Cheng-Liang, Paul Gong, Chang Li-Ren, Ting-Tong Chang, Tsui Kuang-Yu, Kuo I-Chen, Jung Yeondoo, House Peace, Su Hui-Yu, and Ku Kuang-Yi. Together, they embark on a journey revisiting glorious cities and civilizations from the past.

“Stained” departs from treating “dirt” as a profoundly significant cultural concept, and the segment’s curators, Yu Wei and Wang I-Chun, explore this concept’s diverse features found in various stratums including in our quotidian existence, language, living space, consciousness, and ritual, and also how it goes against the conventional system of order. This segment brings together contemporary art, historical archive, and field studies, and features a series of brand new commissioned contemporary artworks by Wang Ding-Yeh, Lee Tzu-Tung, Chin Cheng-Te, Dan Isomura, Haruko Sasakawa, Liu Yu, and Wu Sih-Chin. The historical archive portion marks the first collaboration between C-LAB and the National Museum of Taiwan History, and based on the concept of “stained”, this section presents literature and historical documents from the Japanese colonial period in Taiwan to recent times, with contents focusing on diseases, public health, homelessness, sex workers, mental disorders, folk rituals, and the Health Expo.

The circular vantage gradually taking shape between rural and urban areas is focused on by curator Chen Hsin-Chu and the curatorial team, as the “Circulation” segment of the exhibition examines the cooperative cycle between farmers, biomass research and development in the textile industry, and how recycled plastics are reused, with various collaborative relations and networks, new roles take on by producers, and users’ tangible involvements presented. Several innovative players actively involved in three new modes of circular industry are recruited for this segment, including Bow to Land, Pick Food Up, Nanjichang Food Bank, the Industrial Technology Research Institute, Creative Tech Textile, HerMin Textile, Trasholove, Precious Plastic, Da Fon Environmental Technology, and For Next Generation.

Moreover, mobile projects focusing on issues related to material circularity are organized both inside and outside of C-LAB, including Theatre of Flows by Raumlabor Berlin from Germany which highlights social issues connected to temporary architecture, with theories on material flows and related interactions and exchanges found in contemporary settings introduced to the audience. Furthermore, following the recent removal of the outer walls surrounding C-LAB and with help from curatorial consultants Liu Shuenn-Ren and Kung Shu-Chang, the 2019 Experimental Architecture Project will be taken over by National Cheng Kung University’s C-HUB and DMO (Design & Make Organization). The project will explore ways to repurpose existing spaces and come up with new spatial designs, with the objective of projecting different possible features that we may find in future urban lifestyles.

According to C-LAB director Lai Hsiang-Lin, City Flip-Flop incorporates in-depth studies conducted through cross-disciplinary collaborations and brings together local and international creative collectives and some of the creative talents from C-LAB’s residency program, 2019 CREATORS. Departing boldly from self-reflections, City Flip-Flop combs through history, and through cultural and field studies, technical research, physical fabrication, and lifestyle design, concrete strategies for cultural experimentation and practice are proposed. At the same time, the exhibition also confirms C-LAB’s position as a platform for mediating cross-disciplinary collaborations. Taking place both in and outside of C-LAB and at unconventional indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces, City Flip-Flop aims to present to the general public constantly shifting shockwaves through a wide spectrum of possibilities that are on view at C-LAB and beyond.