Polymer art space holds final show reflecting oppressive Taiwanese art industry

Polymer art space acted as a petri dish for artistic creativity, cultivating intriguing works of art

Polymer art studio will launch final show feature the difficulties artists face (image by Taiwan News Lyla)

Polymer art studio will launch final show feature the difficulties artists face (image by Taiwan News Lyla)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Polymer art space will be closed due to its upcoming expiring lease in December. In order to commemorate its five-year's in the space, Polymer will hold a performance titled "Stolen Field” this weekend (Nov. 3-4) which reflects the difficult situation that the Taiwanese art industry is dealing with.

​The slogan in Polymer means it's all gone. (Image by Taiwan News Lyla)

Established in 2013, Polymer has been located in the Beitou district of Taipei. The venue gathered creative minds from multiple disciplines. Its creative nature was expressed in galleries, museums, and schools, and it served as the “Silicon Valley” of the art world.

Polymer has also been like a petri dish breeding creativity of artists and cultivating dramatic new forms of art.

“At Polymer's onset, artists invested almost 2 million in building up the locale while planning, furnishing, and recruiting resident artists. After a while, they finally settled in to create astounding art. Then, people started to have disagreements and disputes,” said the art director, Kuo I-Chen.

Polymer art director, Kuo I-Chen (Image by Taiwan News Lyla)

Even though the intention in starting the place was brilliant, the values people held and the way people think diverged. Hence the artists lost their unified vision creating turmoil that lasted for nearly three years.

However, and to everybody’s surprise, a severe earthquake hit Southern Taiwan in 2016, bringing the leadership together again in their dedication to art. The artists decided to help the less fortunate people in a creative way.

The leader of the campaign was the current art director of Polymer, Kuo I-Chen. He explained, “before the earthquake, the artists worked individually. However, when the quake happened, I thought I needed to do something to gather everyone’s power and help the poor local residents.”

“As an artist, I initiated fundraising activities and, out of my hopefulness, we collected 100 pieces in a week. The artists all came out of the studio to support me actively. Together, we raised NT$1.8 million and donated the funds to the Tainan Government for historic building restoration purposes,” said Kuo I-Chen.

The earthquake may have damaged many people’s homes, but it could not diminish all hope. Polymer started to have a clearer direction, and with determined hearts they held more events, such as joining the Taipei book fair and hosting other open studio activities on a larger scale.

“More and more international artists visit Polymer while visiting Taiwan. It has gradually become an important activist (site) in the art industry. However, while everything seemed to be on the right track, the upcoming lease expired, creating another problem,” said Kuo I-Chen.

Kuo I-Chen explained, "The landlord saw Polymer's uprising career and planned to take control. Now, we are actively looking for a new place, but haven’t yet found the proper location."

Even though they are in a difficult situation, the charming and positive Kuo I-Chen said, "It’s ok! We will have a holiday and take a rest first. Afterwards, we will try to make Polymer bigger and better."

Kuo I-Chen further explained that, in Taiwan, most of the art groups’ sustenance comes from governmental support. He expected that, one day, Polymer will survive on its own and be strong enough to help other artistic and cultural groups.

The final event of Polymer is titled "Stolen Field” and is performed by a group of young and talented Taiwanese artists. Featuring drama, dance, and musical performance, the story, set around a crime scene, indicates that “something” has gone missing.

Fundraising event for the “Polymer 2013-2018 book” (image by Taiwan News Lyla)

The performance reflects more than the current situation that Polymer is facing. It also presents how the Taiwanese art industry is oppressed by the political environment. The show will be launched on the evening of Nov. 3.

In addition to the show, Polymer expresses a need for fundraising for the “Polymer 2013-2018 book”project which is expected to be published in 2019. Also, there will be an onsite screen printing event. For more information, please go to Polymer's Facebook page.

Screen print event (image by Taiwan News Lyla)