The real distance between Taipei and Shanghai is approximately 600 kilometers, but due to the current cross-strait situation the actual traveling distance is some 2,600 kilometers. Fortunately, through the use of technology and a cooperative effort between the Taipei Artist Village and the High Moon Art & Culture Centre in Shanghai, the artistic distance between the two cities has been shortened to almost nothing.
The Taipei side of the "Border Crossing" Exhibition will run until January 22, 2006 on the first floor of the Taipei Artist Village. It involves images, both static and moving, related to city life by Taiwanese and international artists. A corresponding exhibit is taking place in Shanghai's High Moon Art & Culture Centre, with works by Shanghai and international artists.
To kick off the exhibition was a videoconference of curators, artists and media from both cities, mediated in Taipei by Liao Hsien-hao, commissioner of the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs, the first time that such an event has been held.
Visitors to the exhibition at TAV will be greeted by Lin Pey Chwen's work entitled "City Matrix", which contrasts modern lighting technology against a background of images of butterflies to represent the distancing from nature of urban dwellers.
Across from this exhibit is a video production plus dance performance by Tokyo's off-NIBROLL Studio.
Daniel Traub, born in Philadelphia to an American father and Chinese mother, has photographed many of the world's large cities. For this exhibition, he contributed works from China's major urban areas, the result of a six-year quest to find his roots.
In the midst of Traub's photographs, stands a television set showing video clips of Taiwanese artist-directed performances at intersections in Taipei. These include scenes shot upside down, with performers seemingly clutching onto the pavement to keep from falling, and a flailing man wedged under a car.
Next to that is a "party room" for dancing robots. An exact replica of this room makes up part of the corresponding exhibition in Shanghai, and visitors will be able to view the happenings going on in that room across the Taiwan Strait.
Another "room" in the exhibition shows footage taken from Cairo on a large screen. A smaller screen reveals the results of the Taiwanese artist's project to ask Cairo residents to sing a song for her. Outside is a set of screens showing video clips by another Taiwanese artist, such as of various types of urban transportation, including subway, bus, plane and train.
An easy-to-miss art piece is "Everything is Dangerous" by Susan Kendzulak, an American artist based in Taipei. This work shows a business card for a relationship crisis hotline on top of a white pedestal. Kendzulak notes that this art project began as a way "to address the high suicide rate, to make an artwork about pain, and to also incorporate my two year recovery process." She adds that this hotline blurs the boundaries between life and art, and that this work has undergone much transformation, first as a two-meter long pillow in a tent, representing a public airing of private pain, then in the form of a counselor's office, and now as a precious piece of art installed on a plinth.
For more information about this exhibition, call the Taipei Artist Village at (02) 3393-7377 or go online to www.artistvillage.org.