The three big winners of the 16th Taishin Arts Award announced

Taiwan’s prestigious award for contemporary art has picked three winners for 2018. The selection process for the illustrious prizes took place during three days of meetings and discussions at the Howard Hotel in Taipei when seven jury members sat to make their final decisions.

It was the culmination of selection rounds that began on Taishin Arts Award’s official website, ARTalks, an open platform that fosters dialogue between different fields, for which nine nominators watched hundreds of exhibitions and performances throughout 2017.

The decision on the winners was managed by Taishin Bank Foundation for Arts and Culture’s (TBAC) jury committee of Taiwanese and international professionals comprising Taiwan’s Chia Chi Jason Wang, Yu-Pin Lin, Hai-Ming Huang, and Shou-You Liu, who were joined by director of Centre Pompidou’s interdisciplinary cultural development department, Kathryn Weir (director of TPAM, performing arts meeting in Yokohama); Hiromi Maruok; and the artistic director Hong Kong’s Tang Shu-Wing, Shu-Wing Tang.

In his opening speech at the announcement on 2 June, the chairman of TBAC, Simon Cheng, said that the 16 finalists had all reflected on the profound insights into the land and society of Taiwan and the reexamination of history in the art circle in recent years.

He added that the final three winners had “demonstrated the vibrant and diversified creativity in Taiwan…their keen critical spirit has provided direct reflections and cautions regarding issues about society, environment, religion and ethnic groups in their works.”

The biggest prize, the Taishin Annual Grand Prize worth TWD1.5m (€43,000) went to the large-scale exhibition, Kau-Puê, Mutual Companionship in Near Future: 2017 Soulangh International Contemporary Art Festival, that took place at Soulangh Cultural Park in Tainan. It was curated by the chief curator Jow-Jiun Gong and his team Po-I Chen, Eric Chen, Yen-Ing Chen and Chiung-Ying Huang.

The jury committee unanimously agreed that “The group has developed a new format for cultural production inspired by ‘kau-puê’ temple networks, with their multiple ‘post-religious’ political, economic and social dimensions.

“Through this project, the curators and an expanding constellation of collaborators and participants have successfully forged a home-grown methodology based on anthropological and experiential understandings of Taiwanese culture. They have created an ongoing platform for exchange and cooperation that is able to generate many different forms of event (discussions, publications, exhibitions) based on networks of relationships and able to respond to local conditions as it moves from place to place.

“Taking as its starting point the history of photography in Taiwan, the project constructs an aesthetic dialogue between contemporary art, ‘folk culture’ and belief, demolishing the boundaries between art and craft. It creates a fresh line of inquiry into art and vernacular culture – a topic that generates abundant discussion – and enriches the landscape of contemporary art in Taiwan.”

Winner of the TWD1m Taishin Visual Arts Award was Jui-Chung Yao’s for his solo exhibition at TKG. Incarnation featured 300 photographs and documented images, a result of the artist visiting 230 temples, graves and parks, where he photographed the religious statues and captured the cultural landscape and folk reality of Taiwanese society.

Commenting on Yao’s work, the jury said: “Incarnation contemplates and represents the bizarre spectacle of religious idols in Taiwan drawn variously from Buddhist, Taoist and even Animist iconography.

“The jury recognises the maturity of YAO Jui-chung’s approach to his art practice, and his ability to constantly renew his perspectives. Incarnation offers viewers the opportunity to reflect upon the space of “faith” and the complex motivations behind the creation and worship of these deity statues, while underlining the fluid navigation between materialism and spirituality in the Taiwanese context.”

16th Taishin Performing Arts Award winner: Stay That Way – Bulareyaung Dance and Cultural Foundation
16th Taishin Performing Arts Award winner: Stay That Way – Bulareyaung Dance and Cultural Foundation

Meanwhile, winner of the TWD1m Performing Arts Award is Paiwan choreographer Bulareyaung, who founded Bulareyaung Dance Company when he returned to his tribe. Commented the jury: “Stay That Way employs gestures and situations from daily life to undermine preconceptions about indigenous dance.

“Its direct theatrical qualities convey dimensions of community life and personal expression, within a cosmology linking sky, earth, and particular location.

“The production makes palpable the spiritual root of indigenous people’s dance and song. The choreographer’s influences from different dance traditions have fallen away in this work where he establishes his own rhythm and vocabulary, creating a tension between land, body and contemporary dance language. In this reflexive work, Bulareyaung responds to the realities that indigenous people face with a unique artistic approach. Stay That Way embodies self-awakening and courage. Bulareyuang has emerged as a unique voice within the contemporary performing arts.”

The founding members of the Formosa Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe, the Rukai singer, Muagai, and the Paiwan singer, Ivi, performed at the awards ceremony.

The entire Taishin Arts Award ceremony can be viewed online.