Thursday, December 12, 2019

In celebration of identity

Dec 24. 2018
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By The Nation

16,942 Viewed

Richard Koh Fine Art is one of the world’s 90 leading galleries taking part in the upcoming Taipei New International Art Fair running from January 18-20 at Taipei Nangang Exhibition Centre.

 The gallery, which will occupy Booth F08 in Hall 1, will present a group feature of works by Anne Samat, Nadiah Bamadhaj, Jason Wee and Trong Gia Nguyen.

Samat’s wall-mounted sculptures embrace and validate the tribes of the world. Informed by folklore and contemporary belief systems, these sculptures are anthropomorphised and assigned gender roles while focusing on materiality through the juxtaposition of domestic and industrial items removed from their arbitrary functions. Held together by the traditional art of Pua Kumbu weaving, these works conjugate the femininity of weaving with the masculinity of everyday and industrial objects and address the constant tussle with materiality and the self.

Expanding on this discussion of identity and gender, Bamadhaj surveys the role of politics and the injection of fear that further discriminates against the marginalised. Drawing upon mythology and her volunteering encounters at a homeless shelter for the trans and cisgendered, her charcoal paper collage portraitures are juxtaposed against a backdrop of serenity, a demonstration of justice for these identities suspended between their reality, hopes, fears and desires that are being endangered by the “othering” imposed upon them.

Making sense of personal identity within a global community, Jason Wee dives into an intimate query of his sexuality and self. Jason’s self-portraitures record bizarre moments of self-realisation, the artist depicted as the mythical cynophalic or lycan species that are considered to have less-than-human qualities in medieval times. The works depict crucial moments where the individual self-consciousness is formed through the maintaining of relationships or ideas, often motivated by fear or concern.

Read as modern folklore suspended in a moment of ascension or declension, Wee considers the estranged self through participation within a community and the persecution it entails.

Trong Gia Nguyen, meanwhile, looks inward to determine the structures that shape the social and personal self through mirror sculptures that record fragments. As a Vietnamese-American practicing in Ho Chi Minh, his work “Toi La Con Nguoi” (“I Am A Human Being”) is a subversion that hints at the interconnectedness between the individual self and the world at large. His works question the existence of these boundaries and the illusionary parameters they impose.

Moving beyond local bands and tribal organisations, these works come together to reaffirm the various identities and recognise the need for communal celebrations. They encourage transnational and transcultural contact in fostering camaraderie within the consciousness of a global community.

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