Biung Ismahasan

Curator's Statement

At the core of this exhibition is the need for women’s togetherness, because we need to unite.

Women have long been the driving creative force behind Indigenous* Taiwanese art, yet their individual contributions have been largely unrecognised, treated as anonymous representations of entire cultures. Working through togetherness, this exhibition aims to gather the physical experiences and life stories of women artists, to show their viewpoints in creative ways, to throw new light on perennial concerns, and to discuss new concerns in ways informed by tradition.  In a global space of disorder, decline, obscurity, and alienation, it initiates an alternative culture and a way of being together.

A woman’s voice is like a drop of water, and the voices of a group of women can be condensed into the power of a river, amplifying their individual voices and blooming collectively in a space. The female body is the first dwelling place for human beings to enter this world. Their own energy is strong and gentle. In every generation, they exist quietly and solidly. Through the powerful objects in their hands, they project the inner heart of women. Lived and subconscious experiences are gradually pieced together in their life journeys, responding to the texture of ethnic cultural memory and to drastic changes in the environment.

RESURGENCE AND SOLIDARITY: INDIGENOUS TAIWANESE WOMEN'S ART attempts to explore the artistic process of ‘acceptance, shift, and expansion’ from the creation of personal experience, life memory, and cultural change. It asks how time and history might be compressed and condensed into a spatial model of women’s unity through lived experience in the gendered body. Questions about the disappearance of class and culture, women’s right to speak, and environmental care are of vital importance to many female artists. They are familiar with trauma - and their art offers at once a response and an escape. 

This exhibition consists of four sub-themes:
- Environmental reciprocity
- Cultural landscape
- Turn after healing
- The power of objects

These themes respond to the core spirit of the entire exhibition, through the work of Indigenous Taiwanese artists Milay Mavaliw, Eleng Luluan and Aluaiy Kaumakan. The exhibition integrates these themes through their careful, deep exploration through art, offering new perspectives through the activation of female artistic unity.

*‘Indigeneity’ and ‘Indigenous’ have been capitalised throughout in order to demonstrate the centrality of cultural identity.  Capitalisation suggests the rights of sovereignty movements, land rights, the rights of the earth, return to Indigenous women’s role in our societies and much more dreaming that cannot be contained in a policy document.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Biung Ismahasan 彼勇.依斯瑪哈單 (b.1984) is a curator, artist and researcher from the Bunun, Atayal and Kanakanavu Nations, three of Taiwan’s sixteen Indigenous Nations. He received a PhD in Curating from the Centre for Curatorial Studies at the University of Essex, UK, in January 2021, with a thesis on Indigenous Relational Space and Performance: Curating Together towards Sovereignty in Taiwan and Beyond. His research involves issues of Indigenous curatorial practice and decolonial aesthetics, focusing on the curation of Taiwanese Indigenous contemporary art, building on the themes of the articulation of ‘performative Indigeneity’, Indigenous creative sovereignty, ethics and epistemologies of artistic collaboration and strategies, as well as the historiography of Indigenous curation and exhibition design. He is an alumnus of the MA in Cultural Policy, Relations & Diplomacy from the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London (2014). 

His most notable curatorial projects include: Dispossessions: An Indigenous Performative Encounter 2014–2019 (an international performance art exchange of Indigenous artists from Taiwan), Ngahi’ Routes: When Depth Become Experiment (Taoyuan City Indigenous Cultural Centre, 2019) and the Rukai Nation installation artist Eleng Luluan’s Between Dreams at Àbadakone | Continuous Fire | Feu continuel (National Gallery of Canada, 2019-2020). He was a curatorial assistant of Let the River Flow: The Sovereign Will and The Making of a New Worldliness (Office for Contemporary Art Norway in Oslo, 2018).