Q1: I’ve always been curious to know how a curator feels after all the buzz of a big show. How do you feel now after the Taipei Biennale (TB) has been on for 2 months? Do you repeatedly contemplate on things or decisions you have made? 
A: Apparently one has to go through a small depression before being able to contemplate! I am not returning much to question decisions that were made, but yes, of course I recapitulate the outcome. Somehow I feel that this happened to be a biennale that somehow ended up being rather "complete". I did not regret any decision from my side nor from any of the participants. I think that within the given framework, really, everybody did achieve their very best. 
 
Q2: There have been many discussions about the show since it was opened to the public. One aspect in every TB discussion is the question: How “localized” is the TB?  Of course, we can’t jump into any conclusions with only one perspective, but some consider it as the “original sin” of an international guest curator. What’s your stance on dealing with this issue? Especially this time you had to carry all the responsibilities without a local co-curator as a shield.
A: The discussion is justified to the degree that it questions certain paradigms of just what constitutes the "international" in art today against a colonial backdrop, but has its serious flaws. There is no essence to "the local", everything exists in international entanglement, even to the smallest gestures. The question is: How do we bring this up, to the surface? How do we talk and negotiate with this reality? This is a serious question. Additionally, in my eyes, the very form of a Biennial lives from making more-than-local-claims. A really local Biennial simply dies, it becomes unimportant. This is the systemic logic of the format, which I believe we cannot simply change, but we must work with, we have to find a positive constructive attitude, or else we better abandon or ignore biennials. Personally, I believe in the Biennial format only because of its "universal" claim, it is a format in the tradition of the "world exhibition". How does "the world" come into view? This is a key question, and it is a troubled one. But it is a trouble that is worth engaging with, because we may discover that we are not alone with a particular experience or condition, and this is the basis of all change.
 
There is another level to the question, which is local sensibility. It’s about how one talks and to whom, and what is shared. This sensibility you have everywhere, and it has much to do with what milieu one lives in and has grown up in. It is, for me, equivalent in a certain sense with history, or better, historical experience, from which results a mode of subjectification. All you can do, and what traditionally artists do, if you don't want to end up isolated, is to look for moments where you can say: this is actually a shared history. It is not merely ours, not merely "local". It goes against the logic of dividing us up. Art makes it possible for divergent historical experiences and subjectivities to speak to each other, to search for common ground. 
 
Lastly, I didn't work with a Taiwanese co-curator for systemic reasons. By systemic I mean the conditions: you have 11 months to work on something with a person you don't know yet. Some people are good in this situation. I am not. I collaborate a lot, but there needs to be the time to establish a solid basis. I prefer to work directly with the Taiwanese artists, because in this way we can mutually make a change and affect each other. And the kind of exhibitions I like to organize simply don't work if you have to make too much compromise, or you fail to agree, because of a lack of time. 
 
Q3: Continuing with the above question, what do you think of this year’s new mechanism of having one curator instead of co-curatorship as in the previous TBs? What suggestions to you have for TB’s future structure?  
A: It depends on the person and project. I would not make a rule out of this. I would simply evaluate proposals from both Taiwanese and non-Taiwanese curators, and realize then what is most daring in international comparison and most relevant to Taiwan. If a Taiwanese curator wants to choose an international co-curator, or the other way around, sure, they should. But they should not be forced, in my eyes. People work very differently. 
 
Q4: In this year’s TB, I feel you put the position of a curator in the very front line, you sort of become one of the participating artists, there’s a lot of direct composition of YOU. Is this the method you normally apply? Why do you adapt this strategy in TB?  
A: Yes, I always do it this way, it’s part of my way of curating. But here it’s really just a few links in the Mini-Museums that I think are important, and of course the overall composition. Let me give you the example of the Taiwanese Dead Leave Butterfly! This idea of mimicry it embodies is important. It is about border-crossing, in the Museum of Crossings. It is an animal that looks like a plant. It is hence a monster, if we accept the definition of monster as being a hybrid: a mixture of things that should stay separate. Monsters are normally that: halfway between human and animal, or human and machine, for instance. Just think of Frankenstein. Monsters make us aware and make us guard these boundaries, which we consider natural. The Dead Leave Butterfly shows us that, when believing in the clear separation, it is us who have become the monsters! We believe in the phantasma of purity, of separation, and hence we make out of those crossing the separation monsters. But in reality, nothing exists in separation, this is the message. This change of perspective is crucial in the exhibition. It says the monster is a dialectic image, and it says we have to de-monster ourselves and the world. Crossing is not the exception, but the rule. The exception is those who see monsters, us. 
 
After the Dead Leave Butterfly, you enter into George Psalmanadazaar on the left, a great case of border-crossing, and on the right into the Turner Archives, where the artists Yin-Ju and James cross the lines to assume the perspective of white suprematist racists. These racists are a perfect example of the actual monstrosity of those who believe in "purity", while they make, by means of projection, monsters of everybody all around them (in all colored people in this case), ready to be exterminated in their always final battle. This kind of racism and its logic is predominantly, but not merely, a white phenomenon. It can be found in the Chinese world in similar ways.

Q5: Taipei Biennial is considered an institutional biennial and from previous editions many curators are trying to play with it. In 2008, it was the first time that TB had outside venues; in 2010, it directly talked about institutional critique. This year you use museum as the medium to question history instead of “breaking” the walls of the white cube you “embrace” its nature, embedding museums within the museum. Can you speak more about this choice of direction?   It surprisingly brought out a vivid de facto monstrosity of bureaucracy.  
A: Critique has its own economy, and it becomes institutionalized. In my eyes, you cannot simply use institutional critique methods today anymore, when they have already become a genre. The bureaucracy aspect is important. There is a stunning history of bureaucracy in Chinese culture at large (the archives of which are held in Taipei). And even the Daoist underworld is organized like a bureaucratic universe. 
I wanted to juxtapose this tradition of a bureaucratic "economy" and system with the ordering systems, the means of classification, of modernity. Part of this means of classification is the museum. Other parts include science, but also the disciplinary institutions, like prisons, or a population census.
 
Q6: I’d like to specifically ask about the work by Yeh Wei-Li. There’s a consistent rhythm while reading the TB, text, documents, images... but the Syndicate project in gallery 206 somehow orchestrated differently with this symphony by way of its scale or installation. How do you feel about the development of this project from the first meeting you had in the artist’s studio till now?   
A: It was a very beautiful process in my eyes. And I think yes, it is different, but it also integrates very very well in the flow of the Biennial. The development was just stunning, I had never imagined it would become such a powerhouse, with so many people working within the "company" structure orchestrated by Wei-Li. I think the results are great, too, it is an amazing and consistent display. It is a highly complex work about the way society, the Taiwanese society specifically, makes its margins and values, reflected in many ways. It is a complex reflection about the most immediate life-world, and the things or objects that share this life world, and construct us as much as we construct them.

Q7: There are a lot of “firsts” in this TB. It has the largest usage of the space, most participating artists, and also the emphasis on image and exhibition design is perhaps the strongest. Normally people don’t pay as much attention to the graphic and spatial design, especially in contemporary art exhibitions. Why do you want to stress it? And what kind of role you think they play in your exhibition? 
A: These are such incredibly important components. An exhibition with its many layers is yet always above all a space, and a 3-dimenisonal image, and also a text, a statement in which everything has to add up and refer to each other. To me, exhibitions are spaces in which we ought to make everything, including every detail, significant. It has to talk, if we listen. If something doesn't talk in an exhibition it is dead, isn't it?
 
Q8: This TB is based on the concept of a Chinese literature criticism, and we can also see books of Lu-xun and Shen Cong-wen as references in the show. However, the times their works represent is an earlier era in Chinese history instead of contemporary Taiwan. Was there ever a consideration to include aspects from Taiwanese literature? If yes, why is there a missing part of the puzzle? 
A: Jang Gui's A Tale of Modern Monsters is part of the display, a crucial Taiwanese work discussed by Wang Der Wei! And in this particular vitrine there are other genuinely Taiwanese references. Many other possible references, within this Mini-Museum, James T. Hong and myself decided to leave them aside, because they are too close, too familiar, to present in the public consciousness to a Taiwanese audience. We wanted to make history look familiarly strange, in this way you trigger much more questions. 
 
The idea of the 2012TB is that you enter into the underworld, reflecting on the violence on which modern societies are built, the violence that is usually needed in order to make the world fit into these categories. In order to deliver a sense of this, you need to make things speak from within these categories, they need to transgress them from within, like a dead butterfly that refuses to be fixed unchanging forever mummified, but starts transforming and moving again. In our case that means: things speak from within the vitrines of the mini-museums. These are museums that should allow for a different kind of memory, one that is concerned with the presence, with transformative power of the present. 
 
Q9:  Lastly, how would you describe your Taiwan experience? 
A: Taiwan is a universe in itself, and it contains many universes, it has so many layers. It is a beautiful place with a very sensitive society, which struggles for its articulation, because it lives in the shadow of many colonialisms and imperial superpowers. 

編輯/陳書俞

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