TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Jut Art Museum, Taiwan’s first private museum focused on architecture and urban development, began the new year with a special exhibit featuring a selection of international artwork making its debut in Taiwan.
The exhibition, titled, “Broken Landscapes: Have Our Cities Failed?,” opened on Jan. 9 and will last through April 18. Curated by Sean Hu (胡朝聖), founder of HU’s Art Company, the art show showcases dozens of works created by 12 Taiwanese and foreign artists. The creations, including devices, video and photography pieces, as well as 3D printings, represent the artists’ personal reflections on the challenges faced by mankind in the 21st century, such as the ongoing pandemic, global capitalism, climate change, and urban development.
"Broken Landscapes: Have Our Cities Failed?" opened on Jan. 9. (Jut Art Museum photo)
Hu said he prefers pieces that are simple and clear in their artistic expression. Nevertheless, the featured works yield layered interpretations, and on top of that, one can always find a certain level of affinity between works of different artists and the different cities that inspired them, he said.
Andreas Gursky's "Tokyo" (Jut Art Museum photo)
The picture by renowned German photographer Andreas Gursky made its public debut in Taiwan at the exhibition. Titled “Tokyo,” it was taken after Gursky traveled on Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train multiple times, taking snapshots along the way. The image perfectly captures the crowded, fast-paced life of the Japanese capital.
Also inspired by urban landscape is Japanese artist Aki Inomata, who used 3D printing techniques to produce crystal-like hermit crab shells in the shape of skylines from cities such as Tokyo and Paris. The series relates to immigration and refugee issues the artist is passionate about, according to the museum.
Aki Inomata's "Why Not Hand Over a 'Shelter' to Hermit Crabs? -Tokyo-" (Jut Art Museum photo)
Canadian artist Liam Morgan’s collection of photographs, which is also spotlighted in the exhibit, commemorates deserted towers that failed to flourish at a time when Bangkok saw rapid urbanization. Meanwhile, Korean artist Suh Do Ho made a video about Robin Hood Gardens, brutalist-style social housing in London facing demolition, in an effort to preserve a slice of what is left behind as cities continue to grow.
Suh Do Ho's "Robin Hood Gardens, Woolmore Street, London E14 0HG" (Jut Art Museum photo)
With “Westbeth Project,” Taiwanese artist Isa Ho (何孟娟) spent four years researching the community of artists at New York’s Westbeth Artists’ Housing, which was previously a lab owned by Bell Telephone Company. Many of the artists had lived there for decades and eventually died there, Ho said. She noted that despite having to settle down in such cheap housing, they lived in harmonious coexistence.
Isa Ho "Westbeth Project" (Jut Art Museum photo)
Commenting on the exhibition, Hu on multiple occasions described modern-day cities as having lost their functions due to the behavior and desires of mankind. “The cities as we see them now are mere projections of our desires… we have exploited our environments while thinking that the world is changing in a positive direction,” said Hu. “The truth is, it really is not the way it is.”
The pandemic has greatly challenged long-held concepts of globalization and capitalism, said Hu. “The pandemic has paralyzed many developed countries, leaving restaurants closed, people dead, and collapsed medical systems.”
“Cities have become isolated islands,” said Hu, referring to lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed by many municipalities around the world to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Those beliefs that once gave people hope of prosperity and wealth are, in effect, vulnerable, he added.
Sean Hu (Jut Art Museum photo)
Hu stressed that the exhibition does not aim to convey desperation and hopelessness. Rather, it attempts to raise the public’s awareness of the changes made to the cities they live in. “Are our cities successful or unsuccessful? I do not have the answer, but I hope to invite the public to think about it through the questions proposed in the exhibition.”
Visitors are likely to feel they are walking on a street, which according to the curator, is the result of careful planning. Hu invites aficionados to walk around the exhibit and "explore the city like flaneurs."