Asia Anarchy Alliance
Asia Anarchy Alliance is an ambitious project / exhibition which seeks to strengthen ties between artists and art communities throughout Asia while responding to cultural, political and economic issues that are specific to the region. The Alliance was formalized in February 2014 on a boat in Tokyo Harbor. The first exhibition took place at Tokyo Wonder Site, opening in March this year.
The second exhibition of Asia Anarchy Allianceopened at Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts in Taipei on May 16 and ends on July 13. The exhibition features work by many of Taiwan's best-known artists, including Chen Chieh-jen, Yao Jui-chung, and Yuan Goang-Ming, who made a video work, “The 561thHour of Occupation”, documenting the recent student occupation of the Legislative Yuan by the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan. Many of the works explore histories of military rule in the 20thcentury that have led us to the present.
There are also works by artists from Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Indonesian artist Jompet Kuswidananto's installation “National Crowds” is based on the artist's research of anthems written for hundreds of Indonesian mass organizations since 1998, marking the beginning of the country's democratic era. Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Lee's three-channel video installation “Sound & Fury” explores Vietnam's development from nationalist communist state to apolitical consumer society.
Wu Darkuen says that the Asia Anarchy Alliance project has just begun and that there will be more exhibitions. White Funguseditor Ron Hanson caught up with Wu recently and asked him some questions.
Ron Hanson: You launched this project in Tokyo back in February this year. Since that time it seems that a lot of the ideas you were exploring have come to life in the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan. The political and cultural climate in Taiwan has changed dramatically in the past few months. Can you describe how Asia Anarchy Alliancerelates to the Sunflower Movement and other contemporary events in Asia.
Wu Darkuen: AAA is an exhibition which depends on another one, Republic without People, which I curated in 2011, to extend to Asia issues. For these years, the whole Asia regionhas been monopolized by Neoliberalism, Media Monopoly, collusion between government and syndicates. From birth to death, every course has been commercialized, for example, people's livelihood, education, habitation, energy resources…etc. However, a rising China also threatens Asian nations. That was the reason why I had this idea to curate AAA.
Actually, the Sunflower Movement was unexpected. We could expect the crisis of the Taiwan government’s China-friendly policies, and also could expect Taiwanese to resist. After the opening of AAA in Tokyo on 8th March, the 318 events (Sunflower Movement) occurred, just one week after we got back to Taiwan. But we did not expect that this day would come so soon.
RH: The term "anarchy" had come to be viewed quite negatively in Western discourse. Often it is used in a reductive or negative sense. But in the context of this exhibition, it regains much more affirmative and positive connotations. Can you tell me about how your definition of the term "anarchy".
WD: Certainly, this word “anarchy” has long been perceived negatively in Europe, as well as the “democracy” which originated in the French Revolution in 1789, and was then transferred from the West to Asia. But the last century in Asia, there were many totalitarian regimes which pretended to be democracies. Those made us rethink, what is democracy? What is a nation? What is a country? And what is government? All are basic questions. But now when we use the term “anarchy” in Asia, we feel this word has more of an “Asian” new meaning. So this word “anarchy” has a meaning as we re-examine all human invention “systems”.
RH: For the Alliance you produced your own passports. A lot of people outside of Taiwan probably wouldn't realize the significance of this particular document for Taiwanese, where every detail is contested. Can you tell me a little bit about your thinking for why you made the passports?
WD: There are two meanings to the AAA passport. First, we produced passports for the AAA(Alliance), breaking the convention that only nations / governments issue passports. And also directly subverting the issues imagination that regarding the government, nations and diplomacy. Second, the passport is also used for executing the exhibition. This passport was issued in Japan linking 12 satellite art events. Audiences could be guided by info article and map to arrive different time different place seeing AAA exhibition. Contemporary artists get involved by their art creation is a very sensitive and complex political theme. We have to consider each part of them cautiously. Through the issuance of a passport that everyone has the medium, so that the audiences can identify with, to promote the “prescription” exhibiting events. Actually, we also published passports in Japan, and invited 10 more art space to join the AAA-Tokyo-Alliance. The conference in Tokyo Bay was the blueprint for AAA.