CRISITCS' PICKS, Taipei on artforum.com
Hong-Kai Wang
Taishin Bank Foundation for Arts and Culture, No. 118, Sec 4, Ren-ai Road, 106
September 7–December 3, 2010
“Between Q & A . . . ,” the latest solo exhibition by the Taiwanese, New York–based artist Hong-Kai Wang, builds on her 2009 commission from the International Incheon Women Artists’ Biennale in South Korea. In that video, Accept Me for What I Am, If You Want Me, she documents the reactions of unsuspecting bystanders to an incongruous political campaign by a fictional Taiwanese candidate, played by Wang, as her campaign truck drives through the streets of Incheon, broadcasting and displaying political slogans and questions in Korean. Also on view in this show is a new work, Accept Me for What I Am, If You Want Me – Taipei RenAi Roundabout, 2010, in which one hears the voices of Taipei locals as they answer some of the questions posed by the faux politician in Incheon. While conceptually similar, this piece trades surprise and unfamiliarity for participation in a multitiered discussion about change.

For two weeks Wang and her team prowled the vicinity of the Taishin Tower––the main offices for Taishin Financial Holdings and the Taishin Bank Foundation for Arts and Culture in downtown Taipei––obtaining audio and photographic footage of shopkeepers, fruit sellers, salespeople, blood bank volunteers, and other willing participants. Whether through their reticence, openness, or outright rejection, Wang’s respondents seek to explain the meaning of change. Their answers range from general to personal, often reveal hope or defeat, and highlight the underlying themes of urban development and economic shifts in Taipei. But the audience at Taishin Tower adds another level of participation; visitors to “Between Q & A . . .” may struggle to hear the interviewees’ responses over the noises of the bank lobby, the Incheon video, and even the traffic at the busy RenAi roundabout. In the effort to distinguish one voice over another, viewers, too, are prompted to consider what “change” is after all.

— Leslie Ureña