ISSUE 7 The Heterogeneous South
The South - An art of asking and listening
Translated by Chi-Fan Lin
For a long time, Kaohsiung, along with the whole southern region of Taiwan, the so-called South, is geographically, economically, and politically in a relatively marginalized position in the national hierarchy of power. In a global context, the term South designates the southern countries colonized by the West in the early modern period. It also refers to the unequally developed Third World during the period of post WWII modernization, or the so-called ‘Global South’ that emerged from the globalization of late capitalism. Thus, the South has become synonymous with the subjugated caste, namely the sub-altern, which development programs have silenced and sacrificed, stripping the disenfranchised natives of their voice and social mobility in deference to the power that be.
This exhibition explores issues related to the invisible subject of the South in modernity. The first chapter, “Your Country Doesn’t Exist”, looks at how modern states while ostensibly promising their mass population of human rights, justice, and autonomy, have in practice relentlessly and structurally subjugated and “southernized” debased groups of individuals. In resistance to the hegemony of power, the oppressed are forced to stand in rejection of their states, using artistic and other strategies of disobedience to create an imagined state beyond the state. This backlash constitutes the theme of the second chapter “Ask the South”, which scrutinizes how modernity programs despoil the environment, endanger other species, and reduce the entire earth to the subaltern status of The South.

Xiao-Yao-Yu 逍遙遊: From Free Range Imagination to the Aesthetics of Scale”, the third chapter, proposes a new theory of aesthetics that attempts to explicate recent artworks related to ruins, environmental disasters, and large-scale human interventions in the planet and beyond. Emanating from the perspective of the South, these artworks exhibit multifaceted scales of time and space that interweave modern technology and natural forces. Though akin to the non-anthropocentric traditional Taoist aesthetics, they differ from the free-range imagination of the Taoists. At the core of the aesthetics of scale is the knowledge of technology that is already embedded in human perception and permeate our way of lives. The Aesthetics embodied in this chapter provide a critique of modern technology and its worldviews.

First Chapter: Your Country Doesn’t Exist
The title derives from an artwork of the same name by Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson. As an installation art exhibited in public spaces, it uses posters, billboards, and streamers to pose questions and provoke viewers’ multifarious attitudes toward modern states. Does your ideal state exist? In what ways does an oppressive state rectify its brutal past? How do you evaluate the state you reside as an immigrant or as a native? This searching piece of art ushers in the exhibition from the lowly locus of the South.
The distribution of the Austronesian tribes and peoples covers the entire region of Taiwan to the north, New Zealand to the south, Madagascar to the west, and Easter Island to the east, with a total population of 250,000,000 people. In the last few hundred years, these peoples lived through colonization, de-colonization, and marginalization. Idas Losin’s “Island Hopping” series aptly demonstrates the location of the Austronesian geography in relation to the map of the world. Chang En-Man, a fellow aborigine of the former artist, is constantly caught in the predicament of a prevalent Han culture vis-a-vis her Paiwan extraction. Being perennially excluded from the here and the now, her work endeavors to capture this elusive third space. In the process of transitional justice, decolonization, and democratization, the involved subjects, land, and people are always central to the controversies. The road to rehabilitation justice oftentimes uncovers further ramifications. Exhibits by Minouk LIM of south Korea, Wang Hong-Kai the sound artist, Yin-Ju Chen the visual artist, and the Asian American James Hong, bring the viewers to the historicity and subjectivity of modern man from the artists’ respective angels. Oliver Ressler’s work refocuses on the plight of the Syrian refugees. The project of Lai Yi Chih, which serves as a transition between the first o chapters, points to the vanishing inhabitants and ravaged landscape in a rapacious modern world.
Second Chapter: Ask the South
The song “Ask the South” by Lin Sheng Xiang and Chung Yung-feng establishes the theme of this chapter. The lyrics depict the devastating impacts of industrialization on rural southern Taiwan: the exodus of youthful labor force to industrial parks and the construction of petrochemical plants, both being common phenomena in the developing world. As a prologue to other large-scale projects, the photographic pictures of Lin Bo-liang capture the heavy tolls on agriculture wrought by industrialization. All these projects entail long-term fieldwork of the activists who document the harm done to the environment and pit themselves against the vested interests of the polluting industries. Edd Jhong and Shu Zhen Tang’s South Wind investigates the pollution inflicted on Taixi village by the sixth naphtha cracker complex of Formosa Plastics. Images provided by PM2.5 Action Squad show environmentalists and many concerned citizens rally behind the group’s appeal for a mask free blue sky. Two pieces by Tai-Jou Lin intend to strike a balance between art and activism and reflect on the violence and resistance sparked by controversial social as well as civil actions. Huang Huan-zhang and Chao Rei-kwang trace the disposal of ashes from incinerators and steel mills, which pollute rivers and render farmland nonarable.

Third Chapter: “ Xiao-Yao-Yu 逍遙遊: From Free Range Imagination to the Aesthetics of Scale”

Yang Shun-fa’s “A Submerged Island” draws inspiration from traditional Chinese ink brush landscape painting to present the seascape of flooding in the coastline and low-lying land of Taiwan. With the subtext of water, waves, ripples, clouds, and sky, the works exhibit a scintillating beauty that belies the allegory of deluge. Yao Rei-zhong and his team expose numerous “mosquitoes halls”, wasteful white elephant public structures that dotted the landscape of Taiwan. The gargantuan abandoned ruins and concrete monsters are products of campaign promises made by politicians to garner votes. Chen Po-I, who holds a Ph. D degree in Ocean Engineering, records and processes the scenes of natural and man-made disasters with the dissecting eyes of a forensic medical examiner. Chang Yung-Ta resorts to audio-visual mechanical devices to observe minute changes in physical phenomenon and sound that routinely escape people’s awareness in our fleeting and evanescent daily existence. A French-born marine diver currently residing in Taiwan, Yannick Daubu helps the viewers listen to the “thinking coral reef” as the species is facing mass destruction. The art of technological minute observations more than just enhances and enriches our sensuous experiences, it makes us appreciate our fragile environment and dwindling species. The above projects conclude this aesthetic and phantasmal excursion.
It is necessary to be aware that the critiques on modernity cannot be a monolithic one, as much as these artworks invite the viewers to see, to listen, and to read the multiple referential dimensions of the South without a fixed scale. To me, the contradiction does not lie in the juxtaposition of Taoist aesthetics and the predicament of modernity; the contradiction is in the myth of globalization, national –states, and anthropocentrism themselves. It is a mistake to realize that the “global” does not exist for how it has been put together in a coherent fiction; the South, the new epistemological object, is to seek a solution for the global, badly composed for a discursive shortcut. This is the reason that the new cosmopolitics comes in, combining with aesthetic-technological means in calling the natural and spiritual worlds to revisit us, for the partially stressed globe, the South.
Manray Hsu is an independent curator and critic. His intellectual work focuses on cultural conditions of globalization, the relationship between aesthetics and politics, and geopolitical situations of contemporary art. Manray Hsu has curated exhibitions include Wayward Economy (2005, Taipei); Liverpool Biennial (2006, co-consulted/curated with Gerardo Mosquera); Naked Life (2006, Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art); Taipei Biennial (2000, co-curated with Jerome Sans; 2008 co-curated with Vasif Kortun, Taipei Fine Arts Museum); Forum Biennial of Taiwanese Contemporary Art (2010, TCAC); Autostrada Biennale (2017, Kosovo); The South – An Art of Asking and Listening (2017, Kaohsiung Museum Of Fine Arts). Manray Hsu often engages in collective work on workshop, conference and publication in Europe, America, Asia and Australia.
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Issue 11 Ethics of Flourishing Onto-Epistemologies

Issue 10 Exhibition Amnesia

Issue 9 Curating Against Forgetting

Issue 8 Reformatting documenta with lumbung Formula: documenta fifteen

Issue 7 The Heterogeneous South

Issue 6 The Beginning of Curating

Issue 5 Curatorial Episteme

Issue 4 Curatorial Consciousness in the Times of Post-Nationalism

Issue 3 Curating Performativity

Issue 2 Curators' Living Rooms

Issue 1 Curatography