ExhibitionOctober 30, 2018–January 25, 2019
Chia-Wei Hsu: Black and White – Malayan Tapir
Opening Reception: October 30, 2018, 6–8pm
Chia-Wei Hsu: Black and White – Malayan Tapir focuses on a specific non-human animal—the Malayan tapir. Through evocative storytelling, Hsu cuts across time and geography to narrate the history of the Malayan tapir and its relationship to colonial power and zoos in Southeast Asia. According to the artist, his intention with Black and White – Malayan Tapir is to use an encyclopedic narrative style to deal with issues of equality between people and non-humans, man and nature, and to explore changes in the way modern people view images.
The exhibition is composed of a synchronized four-channel LED-screen installation. The scenes in the video switch between the National Gallery Singapore, the National History Museum, and the Singapore Zoo, to search engines and multiple computer screen windows. Across the screens, a zoo tour guide recounts the initial recording of the black and white Malayan tapir by a Chinese painter, who mapped it in the early nineteenth century at the request of William Farquhar, a commander of the British East India Company. This was likely the first documentation of the species, an endeavor that was ultimately contested by Farquhar’s boss Stamford Raffles, who also purported to be the first to discover the animal. Due to the rapid development of the natural sciences during the colonial era, the naming and documentation of animals and plants became a competitive field, and accordingly, conflict is entwined with the history and legend of the Malayan tapir, now an endangered species.
Chia-Wei Hsu (born 1983, lives and works in Taipei) is interested in the untold histories of different periods in time, and frequently focuses on the Cold War in Asia. His works, often in the form of films and installations, weave together reality and myth, the past and the present. Hsu’s work has been presented in many museums, including the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid. A Hugo Boss Asia Art Award finalist in 2012 and the Grand Prize winner of the prestigious 2017 Taishin Arts Award, Hsu has also been included in many biennials and festivals, including the 39th International Film Festival Rotterdam, the 2012 Liverpool Biennial, the 2018 Sydney Biennale and the 2018 Gwangju Biennale. He will also participate in upcoming biennales in Bangkok and Shanghai.
This exhibition is co-organized by ISCP and the Taipei Cultural Center in New York.
Major support for this exhibition is provided by the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan and Taipei Cultural Center in New York. This program is also supported, in part, by Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, New York City Council District 34, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.