Promised Land 應許之地

2016 Installation 

Iron, Glass, Branches, Water, Sugar, Metal

 

 

 

 

 

Interview by WHITE FUNGUS 

Q  In your sculpture/installation for this exhibition, “Promised Land”, you explore the significance of sugar for the history of Bangka. This theme seems connected to another recent work of yours, “They Come, We Don’t Have Sugar”. Can you tell me about why you chose to focus on the sugar industry for these works?

 

A  I choose to talk about Wanhua’s history from the angle of sugar because I think this corresponds to sugar industry’s position in Taiwan’s history. Sugar cane was massively planted in Taiwan thanks to the propitious climate and environment here, and sugar industry was one of Taiwan’s major exportation industries. Yet due to alterations of the country’s policy and leadership, eventually we turned to rely on importation as the main resource of sugar. In fooding, sugar has the function of adding flavor; it enhances special savor to food. For me, this is very similar to Wanhua’s role in the entire country in an early period. Historically, sugar industry hubs and the old district of Wanhua were places longed for by different communities and peoples. Today, they have departed from their pasts and exist with their vivid conditions, which is also because of their openess.

 

By chance, I’ve several connections to Wanhua in 2016. Months ago, I was invited to take part in “Gara Art Festival”(加蚋仔藝術季) and “Hieroglyphic Memory” exhibition in Bopiliao Historic Block. Coincidentally, both projects took the locality of Wanhua as their texts. For my 《日景計劃》 in “Gara Art Festival”, I took buses moving in Wanhua streets everyday as the venue. At the start of the research project based in this area, I made a series of photography and proposed “They Come, We Don’t Have Sugar”; the phrase was the problematic for the work.

 

“They come, Taiwan as the place producing sugar cane, the raw material of sugar industry. They come, most cane fields are changed into rice fields under the rule. They come and destroy most of the sugar factories.  They come, Taiwan that used to export sugar now imports it.  They come, and we’re taught how to live our lives.” “They” in the sentences point to different answers in the minds of inhabitants in Wanhua and their answers just represent their feedbacks to their own past history.

 

As for my work “Promised Land” for “Hieroglyphic Memory” exhibition, mainly it’s to present my previous questioning through installation. It relates how the land of Wanhua was a place many people aspired to in the past. Also, the melting of sugar reflects current mutations of Wnahua. The installation is composed of sugar and materials collected from Wanhua Sugar Industry Cultural Park on Dali St.; it’s balanced in mid-air. The main part, the round-shaped sugar symbolizes the relation between Whanhua and sugar. During the exhibition period, the sugar’s volume and crystalization will change. Changes of forms in the installation signify the various facettes and situations in different stages of the land.

 

Q 你在為這場展覽創作的雕塑╱裝置作品《應許之地》中,就艋舺歷史的部份,探討了糖產業的意義。這個主題似乎關聯到妳的另一件近作──《他們來了,沒有糖》。請談談為何選擇以糖業作為這些作品的焦點?

 

A  我以糖來談萬華的歷史,是因為我覺得這呼應了製糖產業在台灣歷史 中所佔的位置。因為氣候和 環境的適宜,甘蔗在台灣被廣泛種植,糖業也曾是台灣主要的出口產業。然而,在國家政策與領導者的變更下,糖最終面臨以進口為主要來源。糖在飲食中扮演著增添食物風味的角色,能讓食物顯出不同格調,對我而言,這與萬華早期在整個台灣的角色很類似。在歷史中,糖產業的聚集地和萬華這塊老城區都曾經是不同族群們嚮往的處所,它們如今以告別過去的豐富姿態存在,正也因為它們的包容性。

 

2016年,我跟萬華很有緣份,幾個月前分別受邀參加「加蚋仔藝術季」,和位於剝皮寮歷史街區的「謎樣的記憶:從敘事軌跡探視艋舺」,這兩項計劃都恰好以萬華當地為文本。「加蚋仔藝術」季的《日景計劃》中,我把萬華街區內每日移動的公車當作展覽場域,在關於整個位於萬華研究計劃的一開始,我拍攝了一組攝影,並且提問「 他們來了,沒有糖」這句話。

 

「他們來了,台灣作為種植甘蔗原料生產糖的地方。 他們來了,大部分甘蔗田受命改耕稻米田。 他們來了,把台灣大部分糖廠都摧毀了。 他們來了,台灣從昔日的糖業出口地轉變為進口地區。 他們來了,我們被教導生存的方式。」 這些字句中的「他們」在萬華居民心中意指不同的答案, 而那些答案正是在地居民對於自身歷史過往的反饋。

 

而我在「謎樣的記憶」展覽中的作品《應許之地》,則是以裝置呈現先前的提問,講述萬華這塊土地早期是許多人心中所嚮往的境地,並以糖塊的融化來反映萬華目前的轉變。 作品以糖塊與現址大理街糖廍文化園區所收集而得的素材 製作成裝置,平衡在半空中, 主要的圓形糖塊象徵著萬華與糖的關係, 糖塊份量與結晶在展期中隨時間而改變狀態,裝置作品中的型態變換,意涵著這塊土地不同階段的樣貌與景況。

 

 

Q  Your work often takes food as an entry point into the exploration of economic and historical shifts. Apart from a number of projects you have undertaken in Taiwan, you have also gone to Manila and Paris to conduct similar projects there. How does the food culture of Bangka compare to those you encountered in other locations?

 

A  In my works about food research in recent years, the cultural aspects of fooding aren’t only limited to foods or cuisine but widely include structuring elements behind food culture, such as cultivation of  crops, transportation of ingredients, food processing, industry history, political food, people’s migrations, etc. I also attempt to describe situations of culture and history through art-making.

Each time I look for subjects and make works in different places, I always choose food culture as the approach to deeply examine diverse issues. Also, I find focuses for projects according to collection work carried out locally and feedbacks from people there. In 2014, during my residency in Cité internatinale des arts in Paris, I started a long-term art project, “Your Cuisine My Recipe”, inviting interviewees from different countries and peoples to eat with me. Through the approach of imitating cooking, I attempted to explore the flattening of peoples and the world. In 2012, during my residency in Manila, I collaborated with my partner in residency to make an action piece. Through a process and action of sharing food with local visitors, I explored the essence of food and its connection to consumer habit.

As for my work for the show in Bopiliao, the focus is on the cultivation of sugar, an important crop in Wanhua in the past, as well as the sugar industry. The point isn’t the food culture of local public. My intention is rather to look at the transformational aspects in sugar industry from a certain history, and to explore how colonial policy influenced such industry through the area’s political, economic and agricultural developments.

 

Q 你的創作經常以食物作為探索經濟和歷史轉變的切入點。除了在台灣開展的一些計劃之外,你也在馬尼拉和巴黎進行類似的計劃。萬華的食物文化與你在其他地方看到的食物文化有何不同?

 

A  在我近年進行的飲食研究創作中,所探討的飲食文化層面不單侷限於食物或料理,更多是囊括飲食文化背後的構成因素,如:物產種植、食材運輸、食品加工、產業歷史、政治性食物、民族遷徙等項目,而我也試圖以藝術創作,而從飲食的切面描繪文史樣貌。

每次在不同地區取材與創作之際,我都同樣選擇以飲食文化的切點深入研究不同議題,也依照當地採集和當地人回饋的情形來聚焦每次創作。2014年,在巴黎西帖藝術村駐村期間,我開始一個長期的創作計劃《你的料理我的食譜》,邀請不同國家與民族的受訪者與我共餐,利用仿製料理這個手法,討論民族和全球扁平化的問題。2012年,於馬尼拉駐村,我與駐村夥伴在當地製作一場現場行為,藉由分食給觀眾的行為與過程,探討食物本質與消費習慣的關聯。

這次在剝皮寮歷史街區展出的作品,我聚焦在萬華過去年代中曾經很重要的原物料種植與糖業歷史,並不指向這個區域的大眾飲食文化,而是從一個歷史去看製糖產業型態轉型的層面,以地區的政治、經濟與農業發展,探討殖民與政策對於製糖產業的影響。

 

Q  Although traditional fresh food markets are still commonplace in Taipei, multinational fast food and convenience store chains are increasingly ubiquitous sites, branding Taipei with the ‘global city’ trademarks. Concurrently, many night markets have undergone re-designation as ‘tourist night markets’, which promote a more presentable version of Taiwan’s street-food culture. What impact do visual representations have on the vibrancy of food culture in Taiwan? How can food culture live and breathe amidst social media’s insatiable desire for its flattened digital image?

 

 

A  Food culture is a social expression that’s closely connected to human. Different geographical locations and climates, environments all contribute to crops of different places. Inhabitants of different countries naturally create certain homogenous food cultures and habits. Of course, this was the case before the age of industrialization. Now, with the convenient transportation and easily accessible information, we can get imported foods and ingredients easily. Much of the food distribution is already a result of certain political and economic policies. If we don’t take initiative in finding answers, we easily fall into vague understandings about the land and its crops. This is the hierarchy of food after the age of industrialization.

Now, all our ways of life are fast-made. Similarly, the pace of life worldwide is under pressure of becoming obsolete in a short time! In a primitive state, people eat in order to maintain their lives, whereas now the food culture in our society has become a luxury. People pay much more to pursue additional values brought by food. Such values are then turned into mainstream values through media promotion, packaging and influence of branding. As I said, people came to emphasize food culture in recent years; people worldwide are concerned about food issues and new ways of cuisine and eating also arise. And for most people in Taiwan, reflection on food involves food security. Yet apart from that, mostly they only think about the taste of food. But I think food culture should be more than that. It should be a resource enabling us to look at more aspects of culture and landscape.

 

Q 儘管傳統的新鮮食品市場在台北仍然很常見,但跨國快餐店和連鎖便利商店也越來越普遍,而將「台北」貼上「全球城市」的商標。同時,許多夜市被重新命名為「觀光夜市」,並推出更好看的台灣街頭飲食文化樣貌。視覺的呈現對本地飲食文化的活力有什麼影響?在社群媒體亟欲將一切化為扁平的數位影像之下,食物文化如何生存和呼吸?

A  飲食文化是最貼近人類的一種社會表現,不同的地理位置與氣候環境都會影響一個地方生長出來的產物,居住在不同國境內的人們自然構成某些均質的飲食習慣與飲食文化──當然,這是在工業化時代之前的局面。在交通及資訊的普及下,人類輕易地取得外來食品與產物,許多糧食的分配已經是經過政治與經濟決策所導致,如果我們不刻意去思考答案,很容易對於土地及物種產生模糊的認定。這是工業化時期之後,所產生的食物階級。

現在人們一切的生活方式都變得速成,全世界生活節奏都被高速的汰換率壓迫著!以原始狀態而言,食飽足以維持生命,現今的社會飲食文化則變成一種奢侈享受,人們付出更多成本、去追求食物帶來的附加價值,而這些附加價值正是透過媒體宣傳,經由企業形象的包裝與影響而轉變成主流價值。如同我先前提到的,飲食文化在近年開始被重視,全球不斷地關心食物議題, 也出現許多新的料理和食用的方式。而對於大部分台灣民眾而言,在飲食上的思考除了食安問題之外,對於食物還是停留在味覺思考,我認為飲食文化應該不只如此,我們應該能從中爬梳更多人文與地景樣貌。

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