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Weaving Different Melodies Together- An Encounter and Dialogue with Contemporary Heterogeneity (dual exhibition)
Exhibition: Weaving Different Melodies Together- An Encounter and Dialogue with Contemporary Heterogeneity
Curator: Lee Yun-Yi
Artist: Jun T. Lai, Sabu Lakaw
Date: Apr. 30- May 21, 2010
Venue: Kao Yuan Art Center, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Living in a modern world that is diverse and chaotic, the ways in which people think and act are invariably imbued with elements that can be mutually contradictory and even antagonistic. Regardless of such ethical propositions as right or wrong, good or bad, there is much in life that cannot be properly understood through the lens of simple dichotomy. As part of the process of constant transformation and alienation, even the dividing line between natural and unnatural materiality has become blurred. The question we have to answer as modern people, living in the here and now, is how can we face these differences and yet still hold them in our hearts, transforming them into something that allows us define ourselves in this world?

People understand the world through the feelings they experience as they interact with it. This unavoidably leads to the mixing of ideas and emotion, and the establishment of a dialectical relationship between natural and unnatural, science and primitivism, knowledge and perception. For example, at the same time as we discuss heterogeneity we lean towards the possibility of homogeneity. In a world that is replete with material and invisible messages, the methodology and content that inform our perception of existence are constantly being changed. As a result, even as civilization scales new heights, it also brings with it a haunting and irrational fear that all things will end. When sensory desires and our thirst for knowledge are easily sated or we consume to the point of saturation, the way in which we imagine the perfect life and promised-land of cultural Utopianism evolves.

Jun T. Lai and Sabu Lakaw refer to this as a “dreamland” , an approach that is perhaps best seen as an aesthetic response to the modern world in which they live and on which they depend. In other words, a commentary on the fact that at the same time as modern people find themselves adrift in emptiness, their feet remain very much firmly planted on terra firma, weaving together different musical notes into a brand new world melody.

In this way, we observe that the “dreamland” in which we freely roam is perhaps fact a faint echo of the cyclical changes that inform the universe. In consequence, concepts and materials that appear antagonistic collide and explode, giving birth to infinite vital possibilities. When the world creates new “genes” as a result of an encounter or dialogue with contemporary heterogeneity, the implications extend into the infinite, constantly being deconstructed and rebuilt, as they strip away fabrication to uncover the real truth. As imagination is made boundless, it transcends and blurs existing boundaries, identifying a series of life possibilities in our future that are softer, clearer, more flowing and natural.

Sabu Lakaw is a young man who grew up in a rather insular Amis community on the coast and who, as a result of his upbringing, initially had little contact with the outside world. At the age of 14, his family in desperate need of money, Lakaw traveled to northern Taiwan where he found himself doing a series of odd-jobs to make ends meet. At one time he installed bathroom fittings, at another he was a welder at the Mailiao Naphtha cracker plant. After six years of laboring he returned to Changkuang village, Changping Township in Taitung County, where he embraced the life of the Amis people, most of who are fishermen by trade. It was only then that Lakaw, who is an innocent and self-effacing individual, began to produce his own distinctive art. His paintings, sculptures and the natural materials such as silt and driftwood he takes from coastal areas to create installation pieces, depict the omnipresence of nature as a foundation on which people build their lives, and do so in a way that is reminiscent of a child’s love for a parent. In this way, nature presents a faint reflection of the weft and weave of civilization.

Jun T. Lai is an experienced female artist with many years of creative and exhibition experience. She is active in contemporary art circles in Taiwan and adept at utilizing acrylic fluid created by modern technology to craft her art. Through the use of brilliant colors and organic shapes, her unrestrained ideas are as light as clouds. This is evident in the overlapping flow of color, light and shade and the dialectic of infinite cause and effect between painting and sculpture. Flowing material elements extend across the light and shade of virtual and real worlds, forming works that are as clear and free as the sea. Such art showcases a passion for depicting nature through culture, at the very core of which lies an aesthetic of constant flux.

Over the last few years Jun T. Lai has lived and worked in the small east coast town of Tulan in Taitung County. It was here that she first met Sabu Lakaw. In 2009, Jun T. Lai was appointed resident artist at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan City and since that time the two have collaborated on a number of projects. As a result, two artists who are in many ways diametric opposites - with differences in gender, age, cultural background, work experience, creative media and expressive methodology - came together on the periphery of an island country, where all boundaries are blurred and not even really unnecessary. Today they are temporarily resident in the very same ancient city where Chinese and aboriginal cultures first collided, in a space that seems wonderfully coincidental but also perhaps subconsciously arranged. The question arises how will two such very different people work together weaving different melodies? How can contemporary heterogeneity be encountered or engaged in dialogue in this strange space?

The cold desolate ocean and warm sea breeze leave their mark on the artists’ work, the language of different natural and unnatural materials combining to create dialogue. Sea, sand, wind, wood, stones, light/shade, plastic, transparent and opaque materials craft a space of natural consciousness, complete for both artists and tightly woven together, wherein water, light, wood and stones overlap inform a stream of consciousness infused with light and color. The projection of light creates a complicated and confusing space in which reality and virtuality overlap. Regardless of how such works change, they can never depart from their essence and faith in freedom, in the same way that the sky and the sea represent one vast “dreamland.”