The term, “the South” has been gaining currency and becoming ubiquitous in contemporary cultural production and presentation. It has further shifted from it limited “geographical” connotations to more nuanced meanings encompassing a kind of sensibility, worldview or perspectives, and a method. When we take a closer look at the three aforementioned exhibitions, it is clear that “the South” conveys multiple meanings. It refers to the North-South divide within Taiwan and the regional scope of Southeast Asia (South Country, South of Country, 2012); it implicates the way the global South has been sacrificed in the project of modernity (The South, 2017); and it serves as an index of the geography and culture of indigenous peoples in Taiwan and Austronesia (The Hidden South, 2018).
On one hand, “the South” is evoked to mark Taiwan’s multi-layered history of colonialism, its close connected to the ocean and the languages and cultures of Austronesia, and its pivotal location at the crossroads of Northeast and Southeast Asia. On the other hand, “the South” embodies a powerful affective force that evoke the imagining of a shared ethnic identity, one that seeks to accommodate the yearning for Taiwan’s cultural sovereignty. In this sense, “the South” is not simply a subject matter of exhibitions, it also a trope that contributes to a fundamental rethinking of the frameworks, methods and trajectories of contemporary curatorial practice. Exhibitions are curated to “present the South”, “fabricate the South”, “create the South,” and, furthermore, to continuously complicate the plural meanings of “the South” in relation to Taiwan. In other words, through the two aforementioned approaches, curating can be seen as an important contemporary instrument to reimagine and remake the cultural and geographical bearings of the South.